49ers Got Surprise Call From Retired 8-Time Pro Bowl QB: Report

Kyle Shanahan

Getty Kyle Shanahan on January 29, 2023 in Philadelphia.

As the San Francisco 49ers were interviewing potential quarterback prospects at both the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine and during the week of two collegiate all-star games in late January, it was revealed on Monday, March 6 that the franchise received this shocking call from a potential interested QB: Philip Rivers.

Rich Eisen of the NFL Network revealed on his Monday edition of The Rich Eisen Show that he had heard from people around the league that Rivers called two teams about making a possible comeback: The Miami Dolphins and the Niners themselves.

“I heard at the combine Phillip Rivers contacted both of them to come back late last year,” Eisen unveiled. “It’s what I heard and that’s the way I heard it. Didn’t happen. Don’t know why it didn’t happen. But I heard that at the combine that Phillip, once the season was over, was like ‘The 49ers are going with Mr. Irrelevant?'” while referring to Brock Purdy.

But it’s the latest twist in what’s already been a highly scrutinized 49ers quarterback room. The 49ers had already lost both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to season ending ailments — the former going down in Week 2 and the latter having to leave during Week 12 against the other team Rivers reportedly contacted…who happen to have a former 49ers assistant coach as head coach in former offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel. Miami’s situation involved the team being without Tua Tagovailoa and backup Teddy Bridgewater. Rivers would have had to run zone read plays if he was brought over by one or the other.

Rivers Previously Revealed Comeback Hint

To reiterate, Rivers last played on January 9, 2021 during the 2020 season — which was the Super Wild Card Weekend playoff road game loss to the Buffalo Bills.

While not on a roster in the 2021 season and retired, he revealed to the Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer on August 3, 2021 that he hadn’t officially ruled out a return to the league.

“I’m not quite there,” Rivers, who was in his first season as a high school football head coach in Alabama, told Farmer. “I’m getting back there. I wouldn’t have made weight if I had to report last week, that’s for sure. But I am getting back into the lifting and running and, shoot, I occasionally throw a ball around out here in this heat. It’s not too hard to get a good lather going.”

He additionally stated that his situation had to be right for him to come back.

“I want to make sure I’m very clear: I’m not predicting I will play in December or January, for that matter,” he continued. “One, you’ve got to have somebody who wants you, and two, it’s got to be right. But I have not completely ruled that out.”

Rivers Not the First Experienced Perennial Pro Bowler Linked as 49ers Possibility

Rivers, 41, isn’t the only decorated passer who had his name mentioned to the 49ers. There’s been two other decorated names…both once facing each other in the Super Bowl: Tom Brady and Matt Ryan.

The seven-time champion Brady, who grew up a 49ers fan, has had his name floating around as a QB possibility with Lance and Purdy on their way to being fully recovered from their 2022 injuries. Even a division rival executive shared to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated that Brady to S.F. would still be a possibility on Monday, February 27. General manager for the Niners John Lynch, however, shared during the combine on Tuesday, February 28 that he sent Brady a text — but it was more to congratulate him on a stellar career that saw seven Super Bowl wins.

Meanwhile, the four-time Pro Bowler Ryan has been called a backup possibility by multiple analysts. Especially given his past ties to S.F. head coach Kyle Shanahan during their time with the Atlanta Falcons.

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