Recently-retired quarterback Tom Brady is a native of Northern California. He grew up a fan of the San Francisco 49ers.
In fact, one of the most-iconic images of San Francisco’s 1981 NFC Championship Game victory over the Dallas Cowboys at old Candlestick Park was a then four-year-old Brady enjoying the dramatic win with his mother.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion has long considered finishing up his career with his childhood team. After Brady’s 20-year run with the New England Patriots, he wanted to sign with San Francisco ahead of the 2020 season before the team ultimately decided to stick with Jimmy Garoppolo.
As you already know, Brady opted to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — leading that team to a Super Bowl title in his first season before falling in the NFC Divisional Playoffs this past season.
So, why are we hearing increased chatter about Tom Brady being traded to the San Francisco 49ers? It’s come up a lot in recent days following the quarterback officially announcing his retirement.
Most recently, former New England Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak touched on this possibility. The Pats’ color analyst and radio show host said that he can only envision one scenario where Brady comes out of retirement. That would include him agreeing to be traded to the 49ers for the aforementioned Garoppolo.
In theory, Brady heading to San Francisco would work. He’d likely play one more season before Trey Lance takes over under center. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers continue to be linked to Garoppolo with the veteran likely to be dealt here within the next few weeks.
All the while, Brady doesn’t seem 100% committed to hanging up his cleats after announcing his retirement.
“You know, I’m just gonna take things as they come. I think that’s the best way to put it and I don’t think anything. You know, you never say never. At the same time, I know that I feel very good about my decision. I don’t know how I’ll feel six months from now. (Something could) change, it most likely won’t.
But I try to make the best possible decision I can in the moment, which I did this last week. Again, I think it’s not looking to reverse course, I’m definitely not looking to do that. But at the same time I think you have to be realistic that you never know what challenges there are gonna be in life. Again, I loved playing. I’m looking forward to doing things other than playing.”Tom Brady on potential NFL comeback (February 7, 2022)
It all seems great. It makes for fun speculation during a somewhat down time on the NFL calendar. But it’s not happening. Here’s why.
San Francisco 49ers are all in on Trey Lance
There’s a reason San Francisco’s brass and Garoppolo himself basically admitted a trade is in the cards following their ugly NFC Championship Game loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers exhausted three first-round picks and a mid rounder to select Lance No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
We have absolutely no idea whether the raw and uber-talented Lance is ready to start under center. He performed pretty well in limited action as a rookie and boasts tremendous upside. But until the North Dakota State product sees regular season, he’s a true wild card.
It makes absolutely no sense for general mananger John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan to seemingly admit selecting Lance was a mistake by trading for Brady.
A Tom Brady trade to the San Francisco 49ers could work in theory
Financially, the 49ers could afford to acquire Brady in a trade with the Buccaneers for Garoppolo. The 44-year-old signal caller would cost a mere $20.27 million against the cap in 2022 if he decided to unretire. Of that, the 49ers would be on the hook for just north of $12 million.
On the other hand, Garoppolo’s cap hit for the Buccaneers in a hypothetical trade would come in at $25.5 million. That’s not terrible given his winning ways and Tampa’s need for a quarterback to replace Brady.
There’s also a thing called compensation when it comes to blockbuster deals of this ilk. Right now, Garoppolo’s market is likely a second-round pick and a couple mid-round selections.
Remember, Carson Wentz netted the Philadelphia Eagles a conditional first-round pick and a third-round selection from the Indianapolis Colts last offseason. Garoppolo has been more successful throughout his career than his counterpart.
Given San Francisco lacks a ton of draft capital, it stands to reason that this could be a player-for-player swap. That’d be similar to when the New England Patriots did Rob Gronkowski a solid by trading him to the Buccaneers ahead of the 2020 season to team up with Tom Brady. New England acquired Gronk for a fourth and seventh-round selection.
This all seems fun. And again it could work. We’re just not seeing it for another reason.
Related: Updated NFL trade rumors
Why would Tom Brady leave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the San Francisco 49ers?
Outside of his link to the 49ers’ organization throughout his life, it makes no real on-field sense for Brady to force his way from Tampa should he unretire.
The Buccaneers are legit Super Bowl contenders with him in the mix. The same thing could be said for the 49ers should they add Brady in a hypothetical trade.
For Brady, this would likely be seen as a lateral move. That’s one of the major backstories we must look at when determining that Tom Brady to the 49ers is nothing more than a pipe dream brought on by the media during a slow time in the NFL news cycle.
It’s not happening. Move on!