49ers obstacle No. 1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2021 end result: Lost to Rams in NFC divisional round
Again, another lesson to be applied here: Never count Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady out until he’s officially out, even when that includes retiring for a mere handful of weeks.
Sure, yes, the Bucs still have an aging roster that managed to get by despite a banged-up secondary last year, and one can wonder just how effective the defensive side of the ball will be after seeing a slight regression in 2021.
That said, Brady and the offense remain a formidable unit, particularly after re-signing running back Leonard Fournette and bringing aboard former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage to pair with wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who’s also back despite suffering an ACL and MCL tear late last season.
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Still, the focus will remain on Brady, who’ll now embrace playing until he’s 45 years old and would love nothing more than a chance to beat his boyhood team, the Niners, in a playoff setting.
It’s one of the few things Brady has yet to accomplish.
Perhaps that would be the pinnacle matchup to hope for, should San Francisco wind up facing off against Tampa Bay in an NFC Championship game.