Shortly after his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were shot down in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs, legendary quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement.
But just over a month later, he let it be known that he will be back with the Bucs for another season.
These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business LFG pic.twitter.com/U0yhRKVKVm
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) March 13, 2022
Before he announced his return, there were rumors that he would do so, and it was also rumored that he may want to play for the San Francisco 49ers.
Tom Brady is going to play for the 49ers, isn't he?
— Adam Rank (@adamrank) February 18, 2022
“Are you guys getting Tom Brady?”
Kittle was ready 😅
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) February 28, 2022
Former 49ers QB Steve Young on Tom Brady's "retirement":
"I believe he's retired, but he's retired from Tampa, he's retired from New England, he's retired from every team in the league except one…"
The San Francisco 49ers. pic.twitter.com/Wkzcv7cA0B
— Gresh & Keefe (@GreshKeefe) February 18, 2022
But in the end, that rumor was a bunch of balderdash.
Why Would Brady Want To Play For The Niners?
It seemed that playing for a third team in four seasons would be too much upheaval for a man in his mid-40s who has a wife and two kids.
But some felt there was some destiny involved.
Brady grew up in San Mateo, Calif. near Candlestick Park, the longtime home of the 49ers, and they were his beloved childhood team.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) February 12, 2015
Montana was Brady’s idol growing up, and suiting up for his former team and leading them to a world championship would’ve been an incredible feel-good story for the consensus greatest NFL player ever.
Very few pro athletes ever get to play for their childhood team once they reach the pros, especially those who become Hall of Famers.
Men like Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter, who grew up rooting for the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Yankees, respectively, and then became legends for those teams, are definitely the exception.
Brady is at the point in his career and life where he holds the keys to his own destiny.
If he really wanted to play for the Niners, he would’ve tried to make it a reality.
Why It Was Never Realistic
The Niners currently have something of a quarterback controversy.
Jimmy Garoppolo has given them five solid years of service, but it’s beyond clear now that there’s a glass ceiling on his performance that will prevent his team from winning a Super Bowl.
Garoppolo, of course, was Brady’s backup several years ago when both were with the New England Patriots.
Reportedly, San Fran will look to trade Garoppolo at some point this offseason and hand the keys over to Trey Lance, who will be entering his second season.
Yes, Brady could’ve been a nice mentor for Lance while helping the Niners win their first world championship since the mid-1990s.
But the price would’ve likely been too steep, as Brady was still under control during his “retirement,” thus requiring the Niners to give up assets to acquire him.
One would think the Bucs would’ve asked for more, perhaps much more, than Garoppolo in return if Brady had requested a trade out west.
The 49ers have a number of key players who are or will soon become free agents, including wide receiver phenom Deebo Samuel.
Taking on Brady’s salary would’ve required general manager John Lynch to undergo some challenging salary cap gymnastics in order to keep his promising core intact beyond 2022.
Besides, when Brady left New England two years ago, the Niners had a chance to get him, and they said no.
It would’ve simply taken too much for San Fran to get him, and it is unclear whether the team was willing to do all it would’ve needed to do to bring Brady back to the Bay.