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49ERS PUT UNHAPPY MONTANA ON IR

Joe Montana, as expected, went on the San Francisco 49ers' injured reserve list but he wasn't happy about it.

"I think it was hard for him," his friend, backup quarterback Steve Bono, said in an interview published today in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. "He was disappointed because he wants to practice with the team. He wants to get back as soon as he can."Players on injured reserve cannot participate in team drills, and must spend a minimum of four weeks on the list.

Despite ongoing problems with his surgically repaired passing elbow, Montana had objected to the move because he believed his rehabilitation was finally progressing well and that he could be ready to play in two or three weeks.

He resumed a limited throwing regimen last week after taking the previous 25 days off due to swelling in the area around the elbow.

Montana, a two-time league MVP who missed all of last season because of a torn right elbow tendon, also was upset and angered by coach George Seifert's decision to name Steve Young as the starter heading into the regular season.

According to a report Tuesday in the Times Tribune of Palo Alto, Montana was so upset by the 49ers' decision that he asked, in a meeting with team president Carmen Policy, to be let out of the final year of his contract.

Montana is due to receive $3 million this season and $2.5 million next season.

Owner Eddie DeBartolo told the Press Democrat that if Montana came to him and asked to be let out of the final year of the contract, "Sure, I'd do it. I would do anything Joe Montana asked."

But both Policy and DeBartolo denied that Montana ever brought up the issue of his contract, although team officials have acknowledged Montana's unhappiness over being placed on injured reserve.

Team vice president John McVay said Montana was placed on injured reserve for his own good and not, as Montana reportedly believes, to protect Young's psyche in the days before Sunday's regular-season opener against the New York Giants.

"We talked at length with the doctors and the feeling was to put him on injured reserve now, to protect him, take care of him," McVay said in a conference call Tuesday. "When you're dealing with a such an enormous talent, it takes special handling."