What if Leonard Marshall had not drilled Joe Montana?
The NFL staff has identified plays or events that may have altered the course of history. Each Tuesday and Saturday throughout the offseason, we will be tackle a different scenario and speculate on how things might have gone differently.
The sight of Joe Montana donning a Chiefs jersey following his trade from the 49ers in April 1993 remains one of the strangest images in NFL history. Yet, truth be told, the writing was on the wall since Montana found himself laid out on the Candlestick turf on Jan. 20, 1991.
In the fourth quarter of the 1990 NFC Championship Game, Montana was hit so hard by New York Giants defensive end Leonard Marshall he suffered a bruised sternum, bruised stomach, cracked ribs and a broken hand. Montana missed all of the 1991 season and most of the 1992 season, never starting another game for the 49ers.
His replacement, Steve Young, took his opportunity and ran with it, embarking on his own Hall of Fame career that included a Super Bowl triumph in 1995. Perhaps Young's most remarkable accomplishment was making Montana something he never thought he would ever be in San Francisco -- expendable.
Recovered from his injuries, Montana, who had quarterbacked the 49ers to four Super Bowl titles in the 1980s, headed for Kansas City, where he proved he could still perform at a high level. After leading the Chiefs to consecutive playoff appearances, Montana finally called it quits following the '94 season
But he will always be remembered as a 49er, and it is fair to wonder: If Marshall's vicious hit had never taken place, would Montana, not Young, have retired a 49er?
-- David Mosse
Mailbag: What if Leonard Marshall had not drilled Joe Montana? Send in your comments and we will post some of the best responses.
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- ABC: Hernandez rental car to be searched
- Source: Revis paid $50K to get 24 with Bucs
- Arians: Fans biggest obstacle for gay player
- Jennings, Giants' Pro Bowl punter, dies at 61
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
The NFL staff has identified plays or events that may have altered the course of history.
Saturday, April 21
What if the Falcons didn't trade up for Michael Vick?
Saturday, April 14
What if Monday Night Football did not exist?
Saturday, April 7
What if Mo Lewis had not injured Drew Bledsoe?
Saturday, Mar. 31
What if Trent Green did not get injured in 1999?
Saturday, Mar. 20
What if Bill Belichick had become the coach of the Jets?
Saturday, Mar. 17
What if the NFL had not adopted a system of free agency?
Tuesday, Mar. 13
What if the Jets had selected Dan Marino in the 1983 draft?
Saturday, Mar. 10
What if the Colts-Giants game had not been such a classic?
Saturday, Mar. 3
What if Bo Jackson had devoted himself to football fulltime?
Tuesday, Feb. 27
What if the NFL didn't employ revenue sharing?
Saturday, Feb. 24
What if the Colts had called John Elway's bluff?
Tuesday, Feb. 20
What if the Falcons had not traded Brett Favre?
Friday, Feb. 16
What if Leonard Marshall had not drilled Joe Montana
Tuesday, Feb. 13
What if the NFL had not employed instant replay?
Saturday, Feb. 10
What if Jimmy Johnson had not left the Cowboys?
Thursday, Feb. 1
What if the Colts had selected Ryan Leaf in the draft?
Saturday, Jan. 27
What if Scott Norwood's kick had split the uprights?