It’s well known that Tom Brady attended the game that put Joe Montana firmly on the map. Brady also attended another fairly important game played by Montana with the 49ers: His final one.
“I was at Joe’s last game at Candlestick Park,” Brady told reporters during his introductory press conference with the Buccaneers. “I actually went up there and saw it with my friend. I’ll never forget that. He was an incredible player. He and Steve Young were my quarterback idols growing up.”
That last game for Montana at Candlestick came on a Monday night in 1992, December 28. Young played the first half, which concluded with the 49ers holding a 7-6 lead. Montana entered for the second half of a meaningless Week 17 game, completing 15 of 21 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Montana added 28 rushing yards, including a non-Montana-like 16-yard gain.
Montana hadn’t played since early in the 1991 season due to an elbow injury, with Young taking over and keeping the 49ers among the best teams in the conference. A then-15-year-old Brady was there to witness it, 11 years after he saw Montana find Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone to lift the upstarts over the old-guard Cowboys, sparking what would become the first of four Super Bowl wins by Montana.
Montana previously advised Brady to finish his career in New England, but it became awkwardly clear that New England coach Bill Belichick was as ready to move on as Brady was — as ready as Montana was 27 years ago.
Brady may have even greater motivation than Montana to find success elsewhere. Montana exited San Francisco as a winner; Brady sputtered to a pair of consecutive home losses, with a postseason pick six capping his tenure in New England and with Belichick’s farewell message containing a phrase that could prompt reasonable minds to differ on the question of whether Belichick possibly was taking a backhanded shot: “Nothing about the end of Tom’s Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was.”
Brady now begins his Buccaneers’ career, and he will surely driven to match Montana’s AFC Championship appearance in Kansas City, and to take it a step farther than Montana did.