Joe Montana sought the trade the San Francisco 49ers completed Tuesday evening because he wanted to spare them a chaotic quarterback controversy, he said yesterday in his farewell to the team he led to four Super Bowl titles.

"I tried to remove myself from the position I was in and look at it more as an outsider and look at what was best for the organization and for me," Montana, now a Kansas City Chief, said at a news conference at the 49ers' headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif. "It just takes a whole lot of pressure off the organization from dealing with that situation because everyone knows that it was one that probably would never quit."

On Sunday, after he had reached a contract agreement with the Chiefs, 49ers Coach George Seifert offered to make Montana the "designated starter" heading into training camp, ahead of Steve Young. Young, 31, had been the starter the past two years while Montana was injured, and he was named the National Football League's most valuable player last season.

Now, Montana, who will turn 37 in June, definitely is a starting quarterback again, and in a San Francisco-style offense.

The Chiefs sent their No. 1 selection, the 18th overall, in this Sunday's college draft to the 49ers for Montana, starting strong safety David Whitmore and a third-round pick in the 1994 draft.

"I think it's a great opportunity for me to go into a system that, if not the same, will be relatively close to the 49ers system ... to get in and make as smooth a transition as possible," Montana said.

Carl Peterson, the Chiefs' president, said his team is convinced that Montana is fit, despite playing only 30 minutes of a meaningless game during the past two seasons following an injury and surgery on his right (throwing) elbow.

"When we brought Joe in, we not only gave him a thorough physical, but a very thorough workout," Peterson said during a teleconference. "Joe even admits that early on in the 1992 season he was ready to play."

And that fact, when the emotional, competitive Montana detached himself from the situation, made him realize the team already had gone through a successful transition to a younger quarterback.

Nevertheless, Montana said the decision to seek the trade "was very difficult" because of the relationships he had built with owner Eddie DeBartolo, team president Carmen Policy and Seifert over 14 seasons.

"It wasn't that we decided this was the best thing no matter what," he said. "We went through it back and forth with my agent, Peter Johnson, playing the devil's advocate a lot of the time. ... We did a lot of work on it. But emotionally -- I won't lie to you -- it's been very difficult, especially the last few days."

On Friday evening, Montana said he and the Chiefs agreed to a three-year deal, and he called DeBartolo to seek a visit with his longtime friend at his Youngstown, Ohio, home to tell him of the deal in person. Montana said yesterday that he departed for Ohio before he was aware of Seifert's offer to start.

"I had no idea about it," Montana said. "It kind of caught me off guard because I wasn't expecting that. I felt very flattered by that. I felt given the opportunity I could maintain it. But that's a tough statement to make because something could have happened to me, my arm or my back. ... {But} I had given my word to the Chiefs."

Montana said he did not think Seifert's offer was a token one, to appease the fans with whom he is a hero and Young just another player.

"I don't believe that at all," Montana said. "I've never had any doubts about anything that's been said to me" by the 49ers.

DeBartolo said situations like this make him want not to be an owner. "It's a tough situation. I've got to make the best of it, and Joe's got a lot of great things in his future," he said. "He's a perfect representative of our family, and we're all going to miss him."