Montana Placed on Injured Reserve by 49ers : NFL: Quarterback will miss at least four games because of elbow injury.
Quarterback Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers, unable to shake tendon problems in his throwing arm, was placed on injured reserve Tuesday and will miss at least the first four games of the season.
Steve Young, who has chafed for more playing time as Montana’s understudy the past four seasons, will start Monday night’s game against the New York Giants. He is the first quarterback other than Montana to open the season for San Francisco in 10 years.
Steve DeBerg was the opening game starter in 1980, with Montana taking over for good in 1981, when the 49ers won the first of their four Super Bowl titles.
Montana, voted the league’s most valuable player for a second consecutive time in 1990, sat out the last three exhibitions because of tendinitis in his right elbow. He last played Aug. 3 in an exhibition against the Chicago Bears in Berlin.
Despite three weeks of rest, cortisone injections and even acupuncture treatments, the elbow problem persisted, Coach George Seifert said.
It was decided to put Montana on injured reserve rather than risk the possibility of aggravating the problem by bringing him back too soon.
The 49ers recently acknowledged that there is some slight tearing of the tendon, but Seifert reiterated that no surgery is planned.
An operation would sideline Montana for the season and could threaten his career. At 35, he is the oldest player on the roster. He is in the second year of a four-year, $13.6-million contract.
Montana will be eligible to return for the 49ers’ Sept. 29 game against the Raiders, “but we’re not going to force the issue,” Seifert said.
Young, signed last spring to a two-year, $4.5-million contract, takes over after an exceptional exhibition season in which he completed 78.3% of his passes (54 of 69) for 626 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran 10 times for 118 yards, including a 47-yard scoring run.
“The positive thing about all of this is that Steve, through a period of time, has developed a real feel for the attack,” Seifert said. “He’s at home and comfortable with our system.
“Joe is and has been the starter. Obviously that would weigh on the future. But at the same time, this is Steve’s opportunity. . . . We just have to wait and see.”
Joining Montana on injured reserve were running back Ricky Watters (broken right foot) and tackle Harry Boatswain (lower back sprain).
The 49ers reclaimed off waivers punter Ralf Mojsiejenko, guard Tom Neville and center Dean Caliguire.
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.