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Maiocco: 49ers check all boxes if Brady decides to return

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Tom Brady did not use "retire" — or any form of the word — on Feb. 1, when he stated he would “leave the field of play.”

Brady wrote he was no longer going to make a 100-percent competitive commitment.

Brady said goodbye to his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates, coaches, front office and fans.
Are we to take him at his word?

One day later, Jimmy Garoppolo delivered his farewell to the 49ers and their fan base 4 1/2 seasons after arriving in the Bay Area from New England.

All that remains is for the 49ers to work out a trade to send Garoppolo to the next stop along his football journey.

Garoppolo’s anticipated exit clears the path for Trey Lance to take over as the 49ers’ starter during the offseason.

But what if Brady makes it known — as he apparently did two offseasons ago — that he wants to play for the 49ers?

What would 49ers general manager John Lynch do if that scenario presented itself?

Let’s quote Lynch:

“When you’re talking about one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time with Tom Brady, of course, you’re going to have some internal discussion.”

That is what Lynch said in 2020.

And that is unquestionably what he would think right now, too.

Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan would likely think the same thing about Aaron Rodgers, but that scenario is even more far-fetched.


There is no way the Green Bay Packers would ship Rodgers, the league’s MVP, to the team that bounced them from the playoffs.

The Packers will remain among the favorites in the NFC in 2022. Green Bay will not tear it down and deliver Rodgers to the 49ers so they can become the odds-on Super Bowl favorite.

However, the Brady-Buccaneers situation is a lot different.

Brady is coming off a fantastic season after helping lead the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title in his first year with the franchise.

The Buccaneers still own Brady’s rights. But after he won a Super Bowl for the franchise, they might be more likely to allow him to call his shot.

If Brady decides he wants to play, there is only one destination for him. The 49ers check all the boxes. The team had a strong nucleus on both sides of the ball and a more-direct path to a championship.

Brady would not want to play in the AFC, where the competition is considerably stronger. The AFC is home to the best young quarterbacks in the NFL: Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson.

The 49ers are the only team among the expected NFC contenders that would likely even consider such a bold move.

As much as the 49ers like Lance and are optimistic about his long-term future, there is little debate Brady would give the team a better chance of winning in 2022.

If Brady is available, of course, the 49ers would have to give that option serious consideration.

Trade compensation to the Bucs and a suitable contract for his services are details that could be worked out if Brady wants to play and the 49ers determine they are not going to pass on him again.

This has nothing to do with Lance.

RELATED: Making sense of Brady-to-49ers noise

Two things can be true: The 49ers can want a short-term relationship with Brady while not second-guessing their commitment to a long-term union with Lance, who turns 22 in May.

Of course, this is all just speculation. There is no indication Brady wants to play. And there is no indication the 49ers would ultimately decide to pursue Brady if he is looking for a new place to play football.

But if both sides decide they want to make it happen, there is little standing in the way of them getting it done.

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