The San Francisco 49ers have a big old question mark under center heading into 2023. Yes, technically the 2022 NFL season isn’t over and how the remaining months play out could change how John Lynch and company view Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance, and even Brock Purdy, should disaster strike, heading into the forthcoming free agency period.
Could the Niners opt to re-sign Garoppolo if he produces down the stretch? Yes, that is a firm possibility. Could they allow Garoppolo to walk in favor of a full-on run with Lance? That’s possible too, as only the coaching staff, medical staff, and front office professionals truly know how far along Lance is in his recovery process. But could the Niners take things in a third direction, targeting a veteran free agent to go all-in on their current roster? If Lynch chooses to take things in that direction, Colin Cowherd of FS1’s The Herd knows who it should be: Tom Brady.
“[In] Tom Brady’s career, what does he like? Veteran pass catchers — he even liked Antonio Brown, Gronk,” Cowherd said, as transcribed by NBC Sports Bay Area. “It takes Brady a long time to get comfortable with wide receivers, especially kids.”
While the 49ers do have options at quarterback, Cowherd feels confident that none of their present options have the short-term upside of Brady returning home to lead his hometown team.
“But they’re in a very weird quarterback spot in San Francisco,” Cowherd continued. “… You got Trey Lance, you have no idea if he can play.”
“And Jimmy Garoppolo, he can, but you worry about his health and you worry about if he gets outplayed in big games against a [Patrick] Mahomes, an [Josh] Allen, a [Joe] Burrow or a Jalen Hurts.”
Say what you will about Lance’s upside as a franchise quarterback but it’s hard to argue that Brady in 2023 isn’t a more Super Bowl-ready quarterback, especially with a certain All-Pro rusher sharing the backfield with him.
Christian McCaffrey Could Be the Key to Pursuing Tom Brady
Continuing on with his segment, Cowherd identified Christian McCaffrey as the key to any Brady interest in the Niners, as the current-Tampa Bay Buccaneers signal-caller has long loved having a pass-catching back at his offensive disposal.
“He knows Brady and pass-catching running backs are unstoppable,” Cowherd noted. “Nobody makes a big decision for one reason. They gave up a lot of picks to an expensive running back with a lot of injuries.”
“I think they did it for now, kind of feels like Shanahan had that in the corner, ‘Tommy would like this, Tommy would really like this.'”
Historically speaking, Brady has worked with many good-to-very good running backs, from Corey Dillon to James White, Legarrette Blount, Kevin Faulk, and even Leonard Fournette, but none are of the same caliber as a rusher/receiver/wildcat quarterback as McCaffrey, as he is truly a one-of-a-kind player.
The 49ers Have Been Linked to Tom Brady in the Past
As fans debate the merits of Cowherd’s suggestion, recall, if you will, that the FS1 host isn’t the only national personality who has linked Brady to the 49ers in 2022. No, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated actually made a similar suggestion at the beginning of the month while appearing on the ZoandBertrand show for NBC Sports Boston.
“If you’ve got this championship roster, do you put it in Trey Lance’s hands if Tom Brady knocks on the door?” Breer said, as per NBC Sports Bay Area. “It’s something they discussed internally in January and February. Let’s say they win the Super Bowl … and let’s say Jimmy leaves after they win the Super Bowl, and let’s say Tom Brady wants to go there.”
“This would check a lot of boxes. Being able to finish in San Francisco, great offensive coach in Kyle Shanahan, great talent around him. Throwing to Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk, [George] Kittle. You’ve got Christian McCaffrey behind you. There are a lot of fun possibilities out there with Tom.”
Would Brady bring his retirement tour back to the Bay Area for one final residency before he rides off into the sunset? Only time will tell, but as the Buccaneers continue to struggle and the 49ers’ continue to soldier on with just good quarterback playing under center, the connection between the two parties will only continue to grow.