How good was Joe Montana? Super Bowl rings, stats, and more to know about 49ers, Chiefs legend

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and San Francisco’s Brock Purdy are both going to be compared to Joe Montana at some point during Super Bowl 58 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday — for different reasons, of course.

Mahomes is trying to lead the Chiefs to a third Super Bowl victory, which would get him one step closer to Montana. Purdy is trying to lead the 49ers to their first Super Bowl victory since 1994, and the second-year quarterback’s style of play evokes a few shades of Montana along the way. Montana played for the 49ers and Chiefs, too. 

Yet we are at least one football generation removed from seeing Montana on the field. How good was Montana during his playing days? A closer look at the legend that was “Joe Cool.”

MORE: How Patrick Mahomes’ stats compare to Tom Brady’s

Joe Montana’s career statistics 

Montana, a third-round pick from Notre Dame in the 1979 NFL Draft, played for the 49ers from ’79-92, but he missed the entire ’91 season with an elbow injury. He closed his career with a two-year stint with the Kansas City Chiefs from ’93-94. 

Montana finished with 40,551 passing yards, 273 TDs, and 139 interceptions. He ranks 22nd all-time in passing yards between Kerry Collins (40,922) and Johnny Unitas (40,239). Montana ranks 19th all-time in career TD passes between Vinny Testaverde (275) and Kirk Cousins (270). 

What made Montana so good? He had a 117-47 record as a starter, and that included a 100-39 record with the 49ers. That was in a loaded NFC that included Chicago, New York, and Washington at a time when the NFL rules did not favor the offense nearly as much. 

What was Joe Montana’s playoff record? 

Montana was 16-7 as a starter in the playoffs. The only quarterback with more playoff victories is Tom Brady, who is 35-13. Montana led the 49ers to six NFC championship appearances from 1981-90, and San Francisco had a 4-2 record in those games. 

He was 2-2 in the postseason with the Chiefs, and that included an appearance in the AFC championship game in 1993. 

What was Joe Montana’s Super Bowl record? 

Montana was 4-0 in the Super Bowl, and he dominated that stage in San Francisco. In those four games, Montana had 1,142 passing yards, 11 TDs, and no interceptions. He is also a three-time Super Bowl MVP. 

Joe Montana Super Bowl game logs                                                               

SB COMP ATT % YDS TDS INT
16 14 22 63.6% 157 1 0
19 24 35 68.6% 331 3 0
23 23 36 63.9% 357 2 0
24 22 29 75.9% 297 5 0
TOTALS 83 122 68.0% 1,142 11 0

Super Bowl 16: 49ers 26, Bengals 21

Two weeks after combining with Dwight Clark for “The Catch” in the NFC championship game, Montana passed for 157 yards and a TD in the 49ers victory against the Bengals. Montana was named Super Bowl MVP. 

Super Bowl 19: 49ers 38, Dolphins 16

Montana out-dueled Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino in a Super Bowl showdown. He was 24-of-35 for 331 yards and three TDs, and he added 59 yards rushing and a TD in one of the most complete performances in Super Bowl history. Montana earned his second Super Bowl MVP award. 

Super Bowl 23: 49ers 20, Bengals 16

Montana hit 23-of-36 passes for 357 yards and two TDs, and he delivered his signature Super Bowl moment in the fourth quarter against the Bengals. Montana led a 92-yard TD drive that ended with the game-winning pass to John Taylor. Jerry Rice took home MVP after catching 11 passes for 215 yards and a TD.

Super Bowl 24: 49ers 55, Broncos 10 

The 49ers routed John Elway-led Denver in a near-perfect performance by Montana. He finished 22-of-29 for 297 yards and five TDs, and that was good enough to win Super Bowl MVP honors for the third time. 

When did Joe Montana play for the Chiefs? 

Steve Young excelled as San Francisco’s starting quarterback when Montana was injured, and that prompted a trade to Kansas City ahead of the 1993 season. 

Montana spent two seasons in Kansas City, compiling a 17-8 record as a starter in the regular season. That included a 24-17 victory against the 49ers in Week 2 of the 1994 season. Montana had 203 passing yards and two TDs in the victory. 

Kansas City reached the AFC championship game in his first season, but Montana was knocked out of the game in a 30-13 loss to Buffalo. Montana’s final game was a 27-17 loss to Miami in the 1994 AFC wild-card round. He passed for 314 yards, two TDs and an interception. 

Montana was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was a member of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary Team. 

Why was Joe Montana nicknamed ‘Joe Cool?’

“The Catch” and the 92-yard drive against the Bengals were examples of Montana’s ability to play under high-pressure situations, and he earned the nickname “Joe Cool” as a result. He led five fourth-quarter comebacks and five game-winning drives in the NFL playoffs. 

Montana also was known for his nonchalant personality, which is personified in this story told on the “Pat McAfee Show’” about the time he called his wife on the sideline phone during a game: 

Is Patrick Mahomes better than Joe Montana?  

Montana is one of three quarterbacks who have won four Super Bowls or more, a list that includes Brady with seven and Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw with four. Mahomes has the opportunity to win a third Super Bowl with the Chiefs on Sunday, and that might lead some to push the Kansas City star ahead of Montana. 

Mahomes and Montana are among the eight NFL quarterbacks with at least 50 victories who have a winning percentage above 70 percent. A look at those quarterbacks: 

QB RECORD PCT
Otto Graham 57-13-1 0.814
Daryle Lamonica 66-16-1 0.801
Patrick Mahomes 74-22 0.771
Tom Brady 251-82 0.754
Lamar Jackson 58-19 0.753
Roger Staubach 85-29 0.746
Joe Montana 117-47 0.713
Peyton Manning 186-79 0.702

Mahomes has 28,424 passing yards, 219 TDs, and 63 interceptions with the Chiefs, and he has a 14-3 record in the playoffs. He’s on track to be considered the greatest quarterback of all-time, but Montana is probably still ahead based simply on the longevity of his career and the tougher era in which he played.

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