July 13, 2013

MVP Profile: Joe Montana, 1990

Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers

Age:  34
12th 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. He followed up in 1989 by leading the league in passing with a then-record 112.4 rating as the 49ers repeated as champions and he gained consensus MVP honors.

1990 Season Summary
Appeared and started in 15 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 520 [4]
Most attempts, game – 49 at Atlanta 10/14
Completions – 321 [2]
Most completions, game – 32 at Atlanta 10/14
Yards – 3944 [3]
Most yards, game – 476 at Atlanta 10/14
Completion percentage – 61.7 [3, 1st in NFC]
Yards per attempt – 7.6 [6]
TD passes – 26 [3]
Most TD passes, game – 6 at Atlanta 10/14
Interceptions – 16 [7, tied with Rich Gannon & Billy Joe Tolliver]
Most interceptions, game – 3 vs. LA Rams 11/25  
Passer rating – 89.0 [7]
400-yard passing games – 2
300-yard passing games – 5
200-yard passing games – 10

Attempts – 40
Most attempts, game - 6 (for 13 yds.) at Green Bay 11/4
Yards – 162
Most yards, game – 32 yards (on 5 carries) vs. Cleveland 10/28
Yards per attempt – 4.1
TDs – 1

TDs – 1
Points - 6

Postseason: 2 G
Pass attempts – 57
Most attempts, game - 31 vs. Washington, NFC Divisional playoff
Pass completions – 40
Most completions, game - 22 vs. Washington, NFC Divisional playoff
Passing yardage – 464
Most yards, game - 274 vs. Washington, NFC Divisional playoff
TD passes – 3
Most TD passes, game - 2 vs. Washington, NFC Divisional playoff
Interceptions – 1
Most interceptions, game – 1 vs. Washington, NFC Divisional playoff

Rushing attempts – 3
Most rushing attempts, game - 2 vs. NY Giants, NFC Championship
Rushing yards – 10
Most rushing yards, game - 9 vs. NY Giants, NFC Championship
Average gain rushing – 3.3
Rushing TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP, NEA
2nd team All-NFC: UPI
Pro Bowl

49ers went 14-2 to finish first in the NFC West and gain the top playoff seed in the conference while leading the NFC in passing yards (4177). Won NFC Divisional playoff over Washington Redskins (28-10). Lost NFC Championship to New York Giants (15-13).

An injury suffered in the NFC Championship game loss to the Giants 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 11/29/14]