Picked By 49ers In Third Round Of Draft
Despite his heroic comeback in the Cotton Bowl, Montana was not considered a particularly hot prospect going into the NFL draft of 1979. Not until the third round was he drafted by San Francisco 49ers, the 82nd player to be selected overall. During his rookie season in San Francisco, he spent most of his time on the bench absorbing lessons in technique from veteran quarterback Steve DeBerg. The 49ers ended the regular season with a dismal record of 2-14. In 1980, he split quarterbacking duties with DeBerg, but Montana clearly outshone the veteran, throwing for 1,795 yards and fifteen touchdowns and completing sixty-five percent of his passes—the best in the NFL. Coach Bill Walsh rewarded Montana by naming him starting quarterback for the 1981 season, which turned out to be the best in 49ers' history up to that point. San Francisco finished the regular season with a 13-3 record and went on to win the National Football Conference championship, 28-27, against the Dallas Cowboys. In the Super Bowl, playing against the Cincinnati Bengals, Montana completed fourteen of twenty-two passes for 157 yards to lead the 49ers to a 26-21 victory. For his contribution, Montana received the first of his three Super Bowl MVP trophies.
The 1982 season was cut short by a players' strike, and the 49ers missed the playoffs, but the team bounced back in 1983 with a record of 10-6. Montana threw for 3,910 yards and 26 touchdowns during the regular season. In the post-season, San Francisco advanced to the NFC championship game, which it lost to the Washington Redskins, 24-21 despite another fourth-quarter rally led by Montana. Montana had tied up the game, 21-21, with three fourth-quarter touchdown passes but lost when Redskins player Mark Mosley kicked a 25-yard field goal in the final moments of the game. The 49ers enjoyed one of their best seasons ever in 1984, losing only one game for a record of 15-1. Montana during the regular season threw for 3,630 yards and 28 touchdowns, completing sixty-five percent of his passes. Facing the Chicago Bears in the NFC championship game, San Francisco rolled to an easy victory of 23-0. Almost as much of a runaway was the 49ers' 38-16 Super Bowl win over the Miami Dolphins. Montana earned his second Super Bowl MVP Trophy by throwing for 331 yards (a Super Bowl record at the time) and two touchdowns. He rushed for another touchdown.