Can Smith emulate Montana's success in K.C.?

Can Smith emulate Montana's success in K.C.?
February 27, 2013, 12:00 pm
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Joe Montana took the Chiefs to the playoffs in each of his years as their quarterback. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

After winning the Super Bowl in both the 1988 and 1989 seasons, the 49ers were poised for a three-peat in 1990.

But early in the fourth quarter of the NFC title game against the New York Giants, Leonard Marshall's crushing hit on Joe Montana knocked the three-time Super Bowl MVP from the game.

You know the rest of the story: With less than three minutes remaining, the 49ers led 13-12 and had the ball, but Roger Craig's fumble led to a Giants game-winning field goal as time expired.

The dream of a third straight Lombardi Trophy came to a screeching halt, and the Joe Montana Era in San Francisco effectively came to an end.

Steve Young, who served as Montana's backup from 1987 to 1990, took over as the 49ers' starting quarterback for the 1991 season after Montana injured his elbow in the preseason.

Unfortunately, Young suffered a knee injury midway through the season and the 49ers, despite a 10-6 record, missed the playoffs for the first time since 1982.

Entering the 1992 season, Montana returned from injury and understandably wanted his starting position back, but he did not get his wish.

The 49ers raced to a 14-2 record with Young at the helm and made it to the NFC title game. The result: a 30-20 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Following the season, amidst a bonafide quarterback controversy, the 49ers traded Montana to the Chiefs.

In his first year in Kansas City, Montana led the Chiefs to a 13-3 record (he was actually 8-3 in 11 starts after being limited with an injury) and a trip to the AFC title game.

He wasn't able to advance to his fifth Super Bowl as Kansas City lost to Buffalo 30-13. (Montana completed just 9 of 23 passes for 125 yards, no touchdowns and an interception).

In a highly anticipated Week 2 matchup in 1994, Montana outlasted Young and the visiting 49ers, 24-17. Montana enjoyed a solid performance, completing 19 of 31 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, while Steve Young completed 24 of 34 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions.

Montana and the Chiefs went on to a 9-7 overall record and a Wild-Card exit in the playoffs, while Steve Young earned Super Bowl XXIX MVP honors following the 49ers' 49-26 dismantling of the Chargers.

After 16 seasons in the NFL, the first 14 with the 49ers and the final two in Kansas City, Montana called it quits.

Clearly, Alex Smith is not Joe Montana. He didn't win four Super Bowls before departing for Kansas City. However, he did resurrect his career in 2011 under Jim Harbaugh's tutelage and led the 49ers to their first NFC title game appearance since 1997.

He was having a terrific 2012 campaign before being replaced by Colin Kaepernick after his fateful concussion in Week 10.

Now, unless multiple national reports are false, he will assume the starting quarterback position under newly-hired head coach Andy Reid in Kansas City.

When Montana was traded to the midwest, the Chiefs were coming off a 10-6 season and a trip to the playoffs.

Smith on the other hand will join a team that finished 2-14 and will select first overall in the 2013 NFL Draft (they did send six players to the Pro Bowl, however).

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft is just 28 years old and will be given a fresh start.

Then again, he isn't Joe Montana.

How do you think Alex Smith will fare in Kansas City?