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1992

Record: 15-3, NFC West Champions
George Seifert's four-year record: 57-14

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:

[Seifert] knew Montana's football health was precarious.... But Seifert also knew that it never would work to have Montana on the bench, so he told [team owner Eddie] DeBartolo that if Montana stayed, he would bring him to training camp as the starting quarterback -- though Young would have a chance to beat him out....

Then Montana flew to Youngstown, Ohio, to meet with DeBartolo and tell him that he wanted to go to Kansas City. Policy worked out a deal for Montana that included a first-round draft pick from the Chiefs.

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.

The Seifert Era continues: 1993

 

 1992 Results

W  at N.Y. Giants 31-14 
L  Buffalo 34-31 
W  at N.Y. Jets 31-14 
W  at New Orleans 16-10 
W  L.A. Rams 27-24 
W  at New England 24-12 
W  Atlanta 56-17 
L  at Phoenix 24-14 
W  at Atlanta 41-3 
W  New Orleans 21-20 
W  at L.A. Rams 27-10 
W  Philadelphia 20-14 
W  Miami 27-3 
W  at Minnesota 20-17 
W  Tampa Bay 21-14 
W  Detroit 24-6

 Playoffs

W  Washington 20-13 
L  Dallas 30-20

The 49ers posted the NFL's best regular-season mark (14-2) in 1992 and ousted the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins from the playoffs. However, the 49ers lost in the NFC Championship Game to Dallas, 30-20.

The title game was tied 10-10 at the half. Dallas then put together two long scoring drives and went up 24-13. Steve Young executed a 93-yard scoring drive to close the score to 24-20 with 4:22 left in the game. A long catch and run by the Cowboys' Alvin Harper put the Cowboys in position for their final touchdown.

The 49ers' final drive ended with an interception, Young's second of the game. The 49ers had also lost two fumbles.