Record: 15-3, NFC West Champions
Fans had been looking foward to the return of Joe Montana in 1992, but his elbow flared up again in training camp, and on Sept. 12 he had his third operation in 11 months.
In Montana's absence, Steve Young had an MVP season. Also making an impact on the 49ers' offense was new offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan and running back Ricky Watters, who gained 1,013 yards despite missing two games with injuries.
Montana returned for the final game of the regular season, a 24-6 victory over the Lions, but he did not play in the postseason. His last meaningful action for the 49ers had come in the 1990 NFC title game, when he left with a broken hand and a concussion with about nine minutes to play.
1992-93: Transition at QB
During the offseason, controversy flared over who should be the starting quarterback in 1993.
Seifert had said that Steve Young would be the starting quarterback because Montana hadn't played in two years. But, Seifert said, "If Joe had come back [in 1993] and showed better, none of us would have been big enough to have kept Joe on the bench."
In "The San Francisco 49ers: The First 50 Years," there's this account of the dilemma:
The pick turned out to be Dana Stubblefield, who would earn defensive rookie of the year honors and defensive player of the year honors during his 49ers career.