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30 for 30, 1983 NFL Draft: When the 49ers floated Joe Montana for John Elway

The latest 30 for 30, titled "Elway to Marino", is a fascinating look at the 1983 NFL Draft, which featured the greatest first round QB class of all time. We look at the small 49ers connection, with reports of trade discussions that would have rocked the world today.

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Later tonight, ESPN will air their latest 30 for 30 documentary, titled "Elway to Marino", focusing on the 1983 NFL Draft. That draft featured the greatest first round QB class in NFL history, and a first round in general that featured some great NFL talent. The 30 for 30 documentary focuses on the quarterbacks through the eyes and words of agent Marvin Demoff, who represented both John Elway and Dan Marino. I had a chance to check out an advanced screening, and it is mighty interesting.

Demoff maintained a diary during the process, and he quotes from the diary in describing the events leading up to and following the draft. The big story was John Elway's refusal to play for the then Baltimore Colts. In the months leading up to the draft, Demoff was constantly working with the Colts ownership and front office, while also talking to a variety of teams interested in Elway.

Fairly early in the documentary, Demoff started talking about some of the trade possibilities. It turns out our 49ers floated an idea that would have blown up the Internet today. According to Demoff, Bill Walsh briefly explored the possibility of trading Joe Montana to Baltimore for John Elway. Then-Colts GM Ernie Accorsi indicated his asking price for Elway had been three first round picks and two second round picks. While the 49ers did not have those picks, they obviously could have done some things in a deal involving Montana.

Although Walsh had won a Super Bowl with Montana in 1981, the 1982 season was a struggle as the team finished 3-6 in a strike-shortened season. In the documentary, Ernie Accorsi talks about how he spoke briefly with Walsh. In that conversation, Walsh told Accorsi he just couldn't do a deal with Montana. My guess is Walsh pondered the possibility, but once he had some time to think it over, he realized it was not a necessary move.

"Elway to Marino" is definitely worth a watch. Aside from the Montana-Elway spot, my favorite has to be the discussion of the Raiders attempt to acquire Elway. The Raiders were working a deal that would have sent Howie Long to the Bears to get the pick needed to make the trade happen. Things fell through late with some suggestions of NFL shenanigans to prevent the Raiders from getting Elway. It wouldn't be a Raiders story without mention of conspiracy!