February 29, 2012

MVP Profile: Joe Montana, 1989

Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers

Age: 33
11th season in pro football & with 49ers
College: Notre Dame
Height: 6’2” Weight: 195

Lightly regarded coming out of college for his slight build and seemingly weak arm, Montana was taken by the 49ers in the third round of the 1979 NFL draft. After seeing scant action as a rookie backing up Steve DeBerg, he moved into the starting lineup during the ’80 season and led the league in completion percentage (64.5). An excellent fit in Head Coach Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense, Montana broke out in 1981, passing for 3565 yards and 19 TDs and again placing at the top in completion percentage (63.7) as he achieved selection to the Pro Bowl. The team also prospered, going 13-3 and winning the Super Bowl. While the 49ers slumped in the strike-shortened ’82 season, Montana led the NFL in pass attempts (346) and TD passes (17). He had three straight Pro Bowl years from 1983 to ’85 and the 49ers went 33-13 during his starts (4-2 in the postseason) and won another NFL title in 1984. It seemed as though his career might come to an end when he had back surgery in 1986, but Montana only missed half the season and achieved consensus first-team All-Pro status as well as a return to the Pro Bowl in ’87, when he passed for a career-high 31 touchdowns. However, the 49ers were upset in the playoffs and he faced a challenge from younger backup Steve Young. Montana came back strong in a 1988 season that ended with a game-winning drive in the Super Bowl.

1989 Season Summary
Appeared and started in 13 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 386 [16]
Most attempts, game – 42 vs. Green Bay 11/19, at LA Rams 12/11
Completions – 271 [11]
Most completions, game – 30 vs. Green Bay 11/19, at LA Rams 12/11
Yards – 3521 [8]
Most yards, game – 458 at LA Rams 12/11
Completion percentage – 70.2 [1]
Yards per attempt – 9.1 [1]
TD passes – 26 [4]
Most TD passes, game – 5 at Philadelphia 9/24
Interceptions – 8
Most interceptions, game – 2 at Tampa Bay 9/17, at LA Rams 12/11
Passer rating – 112.4 [1]
400-yard passing games – 2
300-yard passing games – 4
200-yard passing games – 10

Attempts – 49
Most attempts, game - 9 (for 21 yds.) at Tampa Bay 9/17
Yards – 227
Most yards, game – 40 yards (on 3 carries) vs. New England 10/22
Yards per attempt – 4.6
TDs – 3

TDs – 3
Points - 18

Postseason: 3 G
Pass attempts – 83
Most attempts, game - 30 vs. LA Rams, NFC Championship
Pass completions – 65
Most completions, game - 26 vs. LA Rams, NFC Championship
Passing yardage – 800
Most yards, game - 297 vs. Denver, Super Bowl
TD passes – 11
Most TD passes, game - 5 vs. Denver, Super Bowl
Interceptions – 0

Rushing attempts – 5
Most rushing attempts, game - 2 vs. Minnesota, NFC Divisional playoff, vs. Denver, Super Bowl
Rushing yards – 19
Most rushing yards, game - 15 vs. Denver, Super Bowl
Average gain rushing – 3.8
Rushing TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: AP, PFWA, NEA, Bert Bell Award, Sporting News
NFL Offensive Player of the Year: AP
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
1st team All-NFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

49ers went 14-2 to win the NFC West and gain top seed in the conference for the postseason while leading the league in total yards (6268) and scoring (442 points). Won NFC Divisional playoff over Minnesota Vikings (41-13), NFC Championship over Los Angeles Rams (30-3), and Super Bowl over Denver Broncos (55-10).

Montana had another MVP season in 1990, throwing for a career-high 3944 yards, but the 49ers fell short of a third consecutive NFL title when they were beaten in the NFC Championship game by the Giants. An injury suffered in that game caused Montana to miss all of 1991 and virtually all of ’92 (he appeared in one game) and the team committed to Young as the starting quarterback. Montana moved on to Kansas City, where he had two productive seasons and was chosen for one last Pro Bowl (his 8th) in 1993. He retired following the ’94 season with the second-highest passer rating in NFL history (92.3) as he threw for 40,551 yards and 273 TDs as well as compiling a record of 117-47 as a starting QB (16-7 in the playoffs). Known for his coolness under pressure and admired for his class, Montana’s #16 was retired by the 49ers and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2000.


MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/9/14]