While one speculative report linked the 49ers as a final destination for now-retired Tom Brady, the rumor mill linking the two isn’t dissipating.
Is it possible the San Francisco 49ers will have a third chance to bring aboard the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady?
Well, according to a growing number of speculations, that’s what’s on the table this offseason.
Brady, of course, retired following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ playoff-exit loss to the eventual Super Bowl-winning Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round, capping off a two-year stint with the Bucs that netted the city and franchise another Super Bowl.
At 44 years old and with a résumé that will be almost impossible to match for generations, there isn’t exactly anything left for Brady to accomplish.
Aside from playing for his boyhood team, the Niners.
Not long after his retirement, a report from New England Patriots radio broadcaster Scott Zolak suggested there’s one final thing Brady would want to do: finish his playing career in San Francisco with the team he grew up rooting for.
One report or highly speculative prediction is one thing. Yet it’s not an isolated suggestion.
Pro Football Talk helps fuel rumors linking Tom Brady to 49ers
Zolak’s thinking has now gone national with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio believing it highly possible Brady will want to join the 49ers.
And will find out a way to do so.
Florio broke down his speculation by saying:
"Jimmy Garoppolo presided over a blown 10-point, fourth-quarter lead in the Super Bowl two years ago. He then presided over a blown 10-point, fourth-quarter lead in the NFC Championship 22 days ago. Rookie Trey Lance may or may not be ready to.So why not spend a year with Brady? The 49ers were his first choice when he became a free agent in 2020, but the 49ers said, “No thanks.” They surely regret it. Now, they may have a chance to rectify it.It won’t be easy. The Buccaneers hold Brady’s rights. But if Brady wants out, would they deny him that opportunity? He delivered a Super Bowl win. He filled the stadium in 2021. He signed an extension last year for cap reasons. Would they tell him “tough crap” if he asked to be traded or released?For now, he’s retired. Even though he never used the word. And even though he said, “Never say never.”"
The Niners, and every other team for that matter, passed on Brady until the Pats jumped at No. 199 overall in the 2000 NFL Draft. Before Brady joined the Buccaneers in 2020, San Francisco was viewed as a potential suitor, only electing to stick with Garoppolo who had just helped take it to a Super Bowl the previous season.
Third time is a charm, perhaps.
How a Tom Brady trade to 49ers would have to work
Brady should carry a lot of weight with the Bucs. He did, after all, lead Tampa Bay to its second Super Bowl crown in franchise history.
Yet the Buccaneers own his rights. This isn’t another case of sudden free agency, and if he truly wanted to play for the 49ers and nobody else, the Niners would have to engineer some kind of deal with the Bucs to make it happen.
But that’s where Brady’s leverage comes into play.
Brady could, in theory, tell Tampa Bay he won’t play for the Buccaneers again. At all. But he would accept the trading of his rights to one team, San Francisco, netting some kind of compensation from the 49ers the Bucs wouldn’t have had in the first place. And with him not ever playing another game for Tampa Bay again, it would be something the Buccaneers could add on.
Even if it was a mid- or late-round draft pick.
From the Niners’ perspective, it would mean sitting Lance for a second consecutive season, certainly cutting into the return on investment they hoped for when they aggressively traded up for the North Dakota State signal-caller at No. 3 overall in the 2021 draft.
As frustrating as it might be for Lance, he would have the chance to sit behind the greatest of all time, and that has its merits.
Will it happen, though? Probably not. But the speculation simply won’t go away.