Twenty years ago Saturday, Joe Montana called it a career

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As the 49ers’ Twitter feed points out, Saturday is the 20th anniversary of quarterback Joe Montana’s retirement from the NFL.

Montana’s departure came after two seasons with Kansas City, which traded a first-round pick for him in April 1993.

While Montana wasn’t able to finish his career with the franchise with whom he won four Super Bowls, the trade worked out well for him, the Niners and the Chiefs.

Let’s review.

The Chiefs made the postseason in both of Montana’s seasons as a starter. He led the club to a pair of playoff wins in ’93 — the franchise’s last two postseason victories to date. His Kansas City seasons were a bookend to a spectacular career that landed him in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

The 49ers, meanwhile, ended up trading the Chiefs’ first-round pick (No. 18, 1993) to Phoenix, as ProSportsTransactions.com notes. The 49ers then traded down again, landing at No. 26 in Round One, where they selected defensive Dana Stubblefield, who was a starter on their dominant Super Bowl XXIX-winning club of 1994.

But the 49ers’ draft haul from the Montana trade didn’t stop there.

In trading down for Stubblefield, the 49ers landed the No. 81 overall pick, a third-rounder. They packaged a second-round pick (No. 56) and the 81st pick to the Los Angeles Raiders for a second-round pick (No. 41).

It gets better. The 49ers then moved that 1993 second-round pick to the Chargers for San Diego’s first-round pick in the 1994 NFL Draft (No. 15 overall). The Chargers, for the record, took tailback Natrone Means, who helped that franchise get to Super Bowl XXIX.

So what did the 49ers do with the Chargers’ first-round pick? According to ProSportsTransactions.com, the 49ers traded it to the Los Angeles Rams for the No. 7 pick to take defensive tackle Bryant Young — who, like Stubblefield, was a starter at defensive tackle right off the bat. And when the Chargers and 49ers met in Super Bowl XXIX, Means rushed for just 33 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.

To review: Joe Montana helped the 49ers win four Super Bowls, and when the franchise moved on from him, it picked up a couple of key pieces needed to win a fifth Super Bowl.

There’s a reason why the 49ers were as good as they were for as long as they were. Did they ever know talent, and did they ever know how to work the draft.

The words “Joe Montana, third-round pick” ought to ring a bell, too.

75 responses to “Twenty years ago Saturday, Joe Montana called it a career

  1. One tradition that has carried on is that even Baalke does well in accumulating picks. Now if he could just get WRs down, the team might have something.

  2. The key phrase there is “twenty years ago.” I doubt anyone will be saying the same thing about the current Niners front office twenty years from now.

  3. How much of it owed to Jerry “Sticky” Rice? When you throw in the headset trickery and other “gamesmanship” those two may be the biggest cheaters of all time.

  4. We were driving the family station wagon during THE CATCH against Dallas in 1981. The reception was in and out so when it would pop in loud & clear we’d pull over. Jack Buck & Hank Stram on the call. Awesome football memory

  5. Hey brainwashed NE pasties fans – KISS THE RINGS!!! Joe “The Goat” Montana didn’t have to cheat for his rings. U hate us cuz u aint us!! All of America mocks u & your despicable franchise of cheaters & murderers.

  6. I can’t stand the 49ers but seriously, Montana was the greatest, every pass was exactly where it needed to be.

  7. What a great player and a great career. I’m 32, and old enough to remember Joe in his heyday. Going to be that guy calling into sports radio when I’m 60 when they’re having that down-time debate on the greatest QBs ever. He’s on the Mt. Rushmore for sure.

  8. “There’s a reason why the 49ers were as good as they were for as long as they were. Did they ever know talent, and did they ever know how to work the draft.” – And did they ever know how to circumvent the salary cap!

  9. voiceofreason01 says:
    Apr 18, 2015 6:50 PM

    Hey brainwashed NE pasties fans – KISS THE RINGS!!! Joe “The Goat” Montana didn’t have to cheat for his rings. U hate us cuz u aint us!! All of America mocks u & your despicable franchise of cheaters & murderers.
    ————————————————-
    When did the Pats cheat? Oh yeah, did Jerry Rice admit on camera that he used stick ‘um, which was banned by the NFL. Sounds like cheating to me.

  10. voiceofreason01 says: Hey brainwashed NE pasties fans – KISS THE RINGS!!! Joe “The Goat” Montana didn’t have to cheat for his rings. U hate us cuz u aint us!! All of America mocks u & your despicable franchise of cheaters & murderers.
    —————————————

    Someday, you’re going to look back on these rants and be very very embarrassed

    At least I hope you are

  11. Why couldn’t Joe Montana get an NFL TV commentator gig after his playing days

    He did for a short time, but wasn’t very good at it and only stayed with it for a short time.

    I enjoyed watching his Chiefs years, that was pretty cool.

  12. Greatest, period. All you have to do is actually watch him play versus all others, including Brady and Manning. If Brady wins another, it’s a tie.

  13. Simply the greatest football player of all times. The second best is so far behind it’s not even worth talking about. There’s God, and then there’s Joe Montana.

  14. Montana is not an announcer because he wouldn’t wanna take the pay cut. He’s made a fortune outside of FB in wine, real estate and other ventures. Good for him.

    Brady is the GOAT. He did it in the salary cap era, many times with waiver wire tools. As opposed to the all star teams and great defenses Montana played with. Getting to 6 SBowls is better than getting to 4. Brady has a better regular season record and post season record. Less one and outs. All across the board. He’ll probably play 5 more yrs. Appreciate everyone’s romanticised nostalgia, but you have it wrong.

  15. He was great. One of the greatest ever.

    That being said, he also played in an era with no salary cap and no free agency or parity, and his owner was willing to pay big bucks to stack the team. He also was fortunate to have several hall of famers as teammates.

  16. crappygovernment says:

    Apr 18, 2015 6:55 PM

    Why couldn’t Joe Montana get an NFL TV commentator gig after his playing days when the likes of Bill Maas and Tim Green could? Weird!
    ———————————————————————-

    He did try being a commentator briefly with NBC after his retirement. He didn’t like it though and left after one season. I’m sure he could easily get a commentator gig if he wanted it. He just doesn’t want it or need the money.

  17. Here’s what I think sets Joe Montana apart. I’m not sure if you knew this but he called his own plays. Someone tried to figure out if he had any tendencies so they charted all the plays he called. Throughout the entire season he never called the same play on first down. Look, I hated the 49ers. I went to college in Cincinnati in the early 80s and again in the late 80s–after the Army. That was during both years the Bengals lost in the Super Bowl to the 49ers. Still, Joe was amazing and may have been the best QB at calling his own plays. I’d say maybe Peyton is up there but nobody was as good of a game manager than Joe. I hated him not only for beating two very good Bengal teams (the Bengals were the only teams to ever even give the 49ers a good game) but also because he went to Notre Dumb.

  18. tedmurph says:

    Brady is the GOAT. He did it in the salary cap era, many times with waiver wire tools. As opposed to the all star teams and great defenses Montana played with.
    ======================================

    You have no clue how Brady would have done without all the rules protecting QB’s and receivers today.

  19. Brady is greatest of all time. Montana titles are tainted with glue hands rice. Brady and the New England Patriots greatest QB and Franchise.

  20. You have no clue how Brady would have done without all the rules protecting QB’s and receivers today.

    ———————————————————-Neither do you.

  21. Here’s what I think sets Joe Montana apart. I’m not sure if you knew this but he called his own plays.

    —————————————————
    Nonsense! Walsh invented the 15-25 scripted plays for his version of the WCOffense, no matter what the D did.

  22. Joe Montana isn’t the only GOAT to retire on April 18. Wayne Gretzky played his last game ever on this day back in ’99. Isn’t that something!

  23. Glad mommy woke you up voices, wouldn’t want you to missa cheap cheater post.

    Gretsky is the GOAT IMO. And I’m from Boston(RGOrr)

  24. Why would any “logical” or “voice of reason” give Montana EXTRA credit for losing in the playoffs BEFORE the Super Bowl?

    Brady and Montana BOTH have four rings. The only difference is Montana failed to make it to as many Super Bowls as Brady.

    It’s like ignoring out how many one and done’s Peyton Manning has but pointing to his “perfect” Super Bowl record of 1-0

    We’d all love to hear how you “logical voices of reason” think that losing in the first round of the playoffs is better than making it all the way to the Super Bowl.

    We’re waiting…

  25. Montana was the best. Very cool in the pocket and nothing rattled him. People point to the lack of salary cap, but Montana played in an era when defenders could mug receivers and really smack the QB without all the penalties. Today’s QBs can sit in the pocket all day without worrying too much about getting touched without a defensive penalty. Today’s QBs can concentrate on the play and not worry as much about having your head torn off by players like Lawrence Taylor.

  26. voiceofreason01 says: Apr 18, 2015 6:50 PM

    Hey brainwashed NE pasties fans – KISS THE RINGS!!! Joe “The Goat” Montana didn’t have to cheat for his rings. U hate us cuz u aint us!! All of America mocks u & your despicable franchise of cheaters & murderers.
    —————————————————–

    voiceinhishead is a frustrated Seahawks fan…not a 49er fan. He just came out from under his bed, he was there comforting Chippy.

    28 -24 … you mad???

    #NESUPERBOWLCHAMPIONS

  27. Just in case people are interested in facts: The 49ers had the lowest payroll in the league when they won their first Super Bowl. They didn’t “buy” it with DeBartolo’s money. DeBartolo was very generous, so he’d pay guys much more than they could get on the open market, but those were all guys they drafted, and many of their superstars came in the late rounds. They dominated the draft every year despite picking at or near the end of every round. Look at the list of the greatest drafts of all time, and the 49ers have four of the top ten, and they all happened in the 80s. Once Carmen Policy took control of the front office they no longer dominated the draft, so they did some funny things with the salary cap., and they bought their last super bowl, the one with Steve Young at QB, but the Montana era was all about scouting and drafting well.

  28. My favorite player ever. Though I agreed with the 49ers that they had to trade him when Young started to flourish.

    Weird that so many Niner QBs end up starting in KC:

    Joe Montana
    Steve Bono
    Elvis Grbac
    Alex Smith

  29. tedmurph says:
    Apr 18, 2015 10:23 PM
    Glad mommy woke you up voices, wouldn’t want you to missa cheap cheater post.

    Gretsky is the GOAT IMO. And I’m from Boston(RGOrr)

    ————————————————–

    tedmurph – I saw the best of both, and I respect your opinion.

    Bobby Orr is the greatest hockey player I’ve ever seen. He did it all.

    Not a shred of disrespect to the Great One.

  30. Not a Niners fan, but here’s the reality:

    Joe is the best qb ever, the stats and rings and no losses prove it. Facts.

    Brady isn’t even close, sorry Pats.

    U can tell the difference in a real winner and Goat like Montana: everyone no matter what city or state recognizes him as the best even if they didn’t particularly like him. But Brady is only liked in one small city. Elsewhere? Not so much esp given his coach has cheated.

    *

    Enjoy.

  31. Played with 9 hof players. Inflated numbers,played in weakest division for a decade. Pre salery cap era when niners put out big dollars to gobble up best players from all teams. Steve young was a better qb for the niners. Marino. Favre. Aikman. Brady. Elway. All better. Rodgers better today.

  32. Certainly one of the top five QBs ever, and maybe THE best. Nicely-written article, and it also points up how good the 49ers were in every aspect of the team. Eddie Debartolo was as good an owner as Montana was a quarterback. His situation should have been handled very differently, but I suspect he was unpopular with other owners, and why wouldn’t he be?

  33. Surprised no one hasn’t mentioned the other two landmark wins for Montana as a Chief. He took down John Elway and the Broncos in Denver, with another comeback win, as KC snapped a long string of losses at Mile High Stadium. Then in 1994, he beat the eventual World Champion 49ers, which was a strange sight, indeed.

    Funny to hear folks comparing Brady and his one honest ring with Montana’s four. But Brady choked in the 17-0 season, delivering a mediocre performance in the Super Bowl. No way Montana plays that poorly in that situation.

  34. For all you Pats fans that try to say Brady is better just stop. Joe never lost a SB. Joe never threw a pick in a SB and if Seattle gives the ball to Lynch Brady loses 3.
    And he should not have gone to one because he fumbled and he won. Just stop with that noise.

  35. It has to be remembered that Montana had a much shorter window for success than Brady. In his first couple of years San Francisco wasn’t a good team and between his back injuries and playing for KC he didn’t have a chance to win a Super Bowl at the end of his career either. Both QBs may have won 4 SBs but what Montana did in 9 years, Brady took 15 years to do.

  36. @j0sixpack……. Manning doesn’t have a perfect Super Bowl record. He is 1-2. He is vastly overrated.

    As for Joe Cool being the GOAT. I believe that he is. I watched him play. People pointing to him and “only” 4 Super Bowl appearances…… do you know how many great teams there used to be in that era? Today there are a lot of “good teams”. Back then there was a handful of “great teams”. That speaks to the competetiveness of that era. Those Giants teams and Cowboys teams weren’t easy to beat and SF didn’t always come out on top.

  37. “Those Giants teams and Cowboys teams weren’t easy to beat and SF didn’t always come out on top.”

    ———————-

    Try having to compete against Peyton Manning in his prime every single year. And those Giants teams Brady faced in the Super Bowls were among the best teams to punch their tickets. You saw what they did to Favre and Rogers led Green Bay clubs in Green Bay.

  38. Love the whole Brady and Montana debate, as they are both excellent players. Personally i feel Montana was better as HE drove down and threw touchdowns to win superbowls. Brady couldn’t drive the whole field and had to have an incredible clutch kicker win him his first three superbowls. Even look at his 4th superbowl, new england had that game lost but the worst play call made them win.

  39. fishpumper says:
    Apr 18, 2015 6:42 PM
    Best quarterback ever. Never lost the Super Bowl or through a pick in it.

    ———–

    I’ll give you that he performed well in Super Bowl games… Generally against inferior competition compared to who ever he played in the NFC championship to get there, but he played well.

    However, your other point has no logic. Getting to the Super Bowl and losing is better than missing the playoffs or losing in any playoff game before the Super Bowl. For example, Montana lost 3 Championship games. That’s worse than winning those 3 games and then losing in the Super Bowl. Going deeper in the playoffs is always better.

  40. Loved watching Montana play. Best QB in history of the game.

    Who’s the only QB to win 4 SBs in 6 years? Ravens fans. You know who it is. NE fans? Think Tommy Boy’s the greatest? Not even in the top 4.

  41. Montana threw 122 passes in 4 Super Bowls but never threw a pass as bad as those 2 interceptions Brady threw against Seattle.

  42. 49erstim makes good points

    The pros and cons of different eras…. Fewer teams, less competition in terms of overall talent and conditioning, yet the talent was more concentrated

    The salary cap and free agency era cuts both ways. The 49ers could keep their players – but so too could every other team

    I just don’t think that Montana should get extra points for failing to make it to the two additional Super Bowls Brady made it to (even if Brady lost)

  43. I’ve never been a fan of the 49ers or Chiefs – but without a doubt, Joe Montana was absolutely one of the best QB’s and was always a class act as a QB.

    Joe M should run a school on the QB’s coming out of college how to approach things and to grow the hell up before taking any snap in the NFL.

    Kudos to Joe M. Your career was first rate and you gave true NFL fans highlights throughout your career.

    And that pass in the endzone against the Cowpies was one of my favorite all time plays in NFL history!

  44. Wow… 20 years ago… I was sitting on the AP Sportswire and watched his retirement story cross. I knew a few seconds before everyone else in the world…

    Ah.. the days before social media!

  45. Super Bowl on the line 2min left…I would want Montana under center more than any other QB I can think of…And I’m old enough to say I saw Unitas etc..Montana had the ability to play big when it counted

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