SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Joe Montana, the three-time Super Bowl most valuable player who has been sidelined since training camp, underwent successful elbow surgery, which took 1 1/2 hours Wednesday night.
After two days of crisscrossing the country hoping to find an alternative, Montana, 35, decided that surgery was the best option to repair the torn tendon in his right elbow that has kept him off the playing field.
Montana is scheduled to be released this afternoon.
He had undergone elbow surgery in 1981 and 1989 before sustaining this injury during training camp.
"Joe personally visited at least two other physicians . . . where he was physically examined, and it was Joe's decision after receiving (team physician Michael) Dillingham's, his team's input as well as the other physicians he visited, that it was no longer necessary for him to go elsewhere," 49er President Carmen Policy said during a hastily arranged news conference Wednesday at team headquarters.
". . . Ultimately it was Joe's decision to go ahead. . . ."
The 49ers have scheduled a news conference today to allow Dillingham to describe the procedure and evaluate the operation.
The operation, which is described as having an 80% rate of success, is similar to one that ended the career of former Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw. He was 35, too.
"There is no suggestion at this point in time that there is any damage to the ligaments," Policy said before the surgery. "This is a tendon situation. . . . It is nothing more than (Dr. Dillingham) anticipated the problem to be a month or so ago."
Dillingham headed a team of three surgeons who performed the operation at Stanford University.
"The overall feeling (on the 49ers) basically seems to be that as a result of the surgery, Joe will not be able to return this season," Policy said before the surgery. ". . . The prognosis at this point--and that is a very qualified prognosis (before the operation)--is that Joe should be able to be back in full stride, maybe even stronger, next season than he was when he reported to training camp."
After the 49ers recommended surgery over the weekend, Montana sought the opinions of two other elbow specialists, James Bennett in Houston on Monday and Ben Kibler in Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday.
Bennett is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating elbow, shoulder and hand injuries. Kibler is the attending physician to the U.S. Tennis Assn. and specializes in treating elbow injuries.
Montana aggravated his injury Saturday during a practice session in which he was attempting 30- to 35-yard passes. The workout was his fourth in less than a week.