Joe Montana knows a thing or two about being a Super Bowl-winning quarterback aging under a new franchise.
"He's struggling a little bit," Montana told Around The NFL's Andrew Siciliano on Thursday. "I think that sometimes when you get to the point where he is in his career, you try to make a lot of things happen and you don't do things the way you used to do them.
"He's still a great quarterback. Is it coming down to that time? I don't know."
Manning's Broncos are undefeated and keeping the AFC West in a strangehold, but their success isn't directly due to the gunslinger's play. Manning has failed to lead the Broncos' offense into the end zone in two games this season, including last week against the Raiders. He's also one of just four quarterbacks to have thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. Manning has struggled so mightily that Gary Kubiak is even fielding questions as to whether he should be benched.
Of course, you don't bench a legend, but you have to recognize when he's out of his element, as Montana has noted. The 49ers great is on point with his criticism, but also accurate in his praise of Manning. As long as the Broncos keep winning, Manning is under no threat of losing his job and can still be regarded as a "great" quarterback at the end of the day.
At this point in his career, Manning will rightly be defined and judged by his wins anyway, not by his touchdown-to-interception ratio. Either way, a place in Canton alongside Montana awaits him.