Tom Brady is the undisputed best player in the history of the National Football League.
The ageless wonder announced his retirement last month, putting the end to a 22-year career that produced three MVPs, seven Super Bowls, and an unmatched legacy. Despite being 44 years old, it was still a surprise to hear that Brady was hanging up his cleats after he led the league in passing yards during the regular season.
Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers crashed out of the playoffs in the NFC’s Divisional Round after they came roaring back in the second half, only to fall victim to a late game-winning drive by Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams, who nailed a walk-off field goal to advance to the Conference Championship en route to a Super Bowl victory.
Somehow, watching Brady go out on a loss did not feel right… and all of a sudden, it does not seem right either.
Tom Brady Might Not Be Done
Reports have circulated for years that Brady wanted to be more involved in his children’s lives and that his wife was unhappy with how long his career had gone on. These were common justifications when Brady’s retirement was leaked by the national media, and there is likely at least an element of truth to them.
With that being said, Brady recently stirred the pot by saying “never say never” when discussing a potential return. If there is one area of Tom Brady that has completely changed since he moved from New England to Tampa Bay two years ago, it is his accessibility— Brady has even been accused of interjecting himself too frequently after largely hiding in the shadows as a Patriot.
Would it be unrealistic to say that the dedicated, lifelong football player that is Tom Brady not only misses the game but the attention that came with it too? Probably not.
A Potential Landing Spot
Tom Brady grew up in San Mateo, California, roughly 30 minutes from San Francisco. The future G.O.A.T. grew up as a fan of the San Francisco 49ers, basking in their glory as they churned out all-NFL players like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders, and Steve Young, among others.
San Francisco is in an interesting situation of its own, having made a Super Bowl and two conference championships in the last three seasons despite being comparatively weak in the quarterback room.
San Fran’s current starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, is entering the final year of his five-year, $137.5 million deal. The heir apparent is last year’s third-overall draft selection, Trey Lance, who cost the Niners three first-round picks and a third-round pick and appeared in six games as a rookie.
Lance’s overall stats read 41/71 passing for 603 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions, with 168 yards and a TD on the ground. Lance was and still is considered one of the most intriguing young prospects in the league, seeing as he opted out of North Dakota State University’s football season the year that he was drafted, meaning that he has only regularly played for one out of the last three seasons.
Could Tom Brady Actually Go to the Niners
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has done his best to praise his starting quarterback, but it is obvious that the team plans to pivot to their new talent sooner rather than later. Not only is Garoppolo injury prone, but his stats are somewhere near the middle of the pack for starting QBs, which is far lower than his competition in the advanced stages of the playoffs.
Judging the Rams’ success this past season, their first with new QB Matt Stafford who was acquired in a deal for Jared Goff, the Niners could really do with upgrading their man under center, even if they have a decent option already. Jimmy G also has value for a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who would be able to provide important pieces to a championship roster in return.
Tom Brady does not have a Brett Favre-esque history of wanting teams to hold spots open for him, but if it becomes clear that SF intends to move Garoppolo, it would not be unreasonable to wonder if he and his agent would reach out to his childhood favorites to see if they would be willing to sign him for a year or two.
Brady’s player profile would fit Shanahan’s system perfectly; he could get rid of the ball quickly, take deep shots when available, and let their electric ground attack do most of the heavy lifting. Even if Brady becomes a glorified game manager, his experience would move San Fran into guaranteed title contention.
Brady’s friend and confidant, Rob Gronkowski, already pulled a similar maneuver a couple of years ago when he retired to avoid being packaged in a trade to the Detroit Lions. Brady’s retirement has basically made him a free bird, and he can handpick his next location if he wants to.
Pushback in the Bay?
The only real issue on San Francisco’s side would be if Trey Lance would be willing to sit on the bench for a minimum of another year— this would mean that he would not have started regularly for three years, which could create issues.
It is unlikely that a situation similar to Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love would develop, but it is impossible to be sure. Even if this happens, however, if Brady was able to bring a ring to the place where he grew up, the Niners’ brass would be willing to overlook a bit of discontent in the locker room.
Nothing solid has been reported yet, but keep an eye out for any stories developing between Tom Brady and the San Francisco 49ers.
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