Speaking on his Zolak and Bertrand show on Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub, former New England Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak shared an idea. While Zolak said he has no inside information, he floated an idea that would have Brady coming out of retirement to finish his career with the team he grew up watching, the San Francisco 49ers.
— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) February 8, 2022
It’s an interesting idea.
Even putting aside Brady’s past with Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers would be a logical target for Brady. San Francisco reached the NFC Championship Game this season and reached the Super Bowl in the 2019 season. While the 49ers lost both games, they had 10-point fourth quarter leads both times. They were close to winning both games and in both cases, an upgrade at quarterback might have done it.
Trey Lance was drafted to replace Garoppolo, but is far from a sure thing. The third overall draft pick in 2021, Lance played some for the 49ers this past season, but has otherwise not played a full season since the 2019 college football season at North Dakota State. (He played one game for North Dakota State in the fall of 2020, but the FCS season was moved to the spring after that, and he declared for the draft instead.) If San Francisco is looking for a proven commodity under center, nobody fits that description better than Brady. Throw in his Bay Area ties and that he grew up a 49ers fan and sure, this seems like a perfect fit. (But there is the question of if a 44-year-old Brady really does want to play any further.)
There’s one area where Zolak is too flippant—the idea that San Francisco would trade Garoppolo for the rights to Brady without any guarantee that Brady would come out of retirement. That’s not happening. No team would ever do that.
Zolak’s assertion that the 49ers wouldn’t get a first-round pick for Garoppolo may feel logical but is by no means a sure thing. With quarterbacks, logic rarely applies. Even still, let’s assume that assertion is correct. Would trading Garoppolo for a second-rounder be worse than trading him for Brady, only to have Brady decide to stay retired? Heck, would trading him for a seventh-round pick be worse than that? No.
This is particularly true with the 49ers who, under current general manager John Lynch, have arguably done better picking after the first round. While Nick Bosa is a star, other first-round picks include Solomon Thomas, Mike McGlinchey, and Javon Kinlaw. Thomas was a bust in San Francisco. McGlinchey has been too good to be labeled a bust, but has still been a disappointment. Kinlaw is only two years into his caree,r but is not off to a great start.
Conversely, Deebo Samuel was a second-round pick, Fred Warner was drafted in the third round, George Kittle and Dre Greenlaw were both fifth-round selections, and Elijah Mitchell was a sixth-round pick. So, “not getting a first-round pick” for Garoppolo wouldn’t mean not getting a good player.
If Brady doesn’t come out of retirement, there’s no way that Zolak’s scenario would play out. If he does, it’s definitely something to look out for. He was just throwing out a random idea, but it would make some sense.