Let’s start with the most recent 49er to wear a different shade of red: Elvis Grbac. Elvis joined the Chiefs in 1997 and due to injury; he was replaced after 10 games by Rich Gannon. Gannon won the next five games, but Grbac was given the starting gig for the season finale and the playoffs. After a 13-3 season, the Chiefs lost to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Playoff game. Elvis’ career with the Chiefs never amounted to much in the four seasons with the club. He only won 55 percent of the games he started in Kansas City. He was 66 percent with the niners. He completed only 57 percent of his passes with the Chiefs, while 66 percent in San Francisco. He came to K.C. with an 85 quarterback rating and dropped that rating by five by the end of his Chiefs tenure. So when Trent Green showed up in 2001, Chiefs fans were happy to say that “Elvis has left the building”.
Before the Grbac era, the Chiefs entertained another San Fran backup in Steve Bono. Bono came to K.C. in 94 to sit behind the original 49er, Joe Montana. However in 1995, it was his turn to take over. In fact, I can remember reading a Sports Illustrated that had predicted the Chiefs to win it all under Bono. The Chiefs once again finished 13-3 and once again lost in the Divisional playoffs, this time to the Colts. This was the more painful playoff game. Len Elliot may still be in hiding. However, Bono didn’t do the Chiefs any favors. He was picked off three times and eventually benched for rich Gannon at the end of the game. Bono gave us one more mediocre year and finished his stint by winning 68 percent of his games for the Chiefs. He was 83 percent in San Francisco. He went from 61percent completions with the 49ers to 55 percent with the Chiefs and he dropped 13.4 points in quarterback rating. The Chiefs obviously won games with their stellar defense in that era.
Now we get to the man that started it all, Joe Montana. Joe Cool was king. Our missing link, right? Well, I’m not quite sure. He never played a whole year because he couldn’t stay healthy (granted he was pushing 40). However, 1993 was a glorious year for Chiefs fans. Two come from behind playoff wins and a trip to the AFC Championship game really showed the talent and toughness of the Kansas City Chiefs. Montana did show his age though throughout the season. He only won 64 percent of his games in K.C. compared to 72 percent in San Francisco. His completion percentage was 3 percent less in K.C. and his quarterback rating was also down 8.5 points. But I am being picky on the aging Montana. He is the last quarterback to win a playoff game for the Chiefs and the Monday Night come-from-behind win against the Broncos is my all-time favorite Chiefs memory. So, I can let Joe off the hook.
Alex Smith steps in with a career winning percentage of 51 percent, completion percentage of 59 percent, and a quarterback rating of 79.1. If those stats drop like they did for the previous three quarterbacks, it could get very ugly for Smith. However, all three of those quarterbacks did go to the playoffs and one actually won a couple of them. I guess after a 2-14 season, Bono, Grbac, and certainly Montana would be far better than what we just went through.