In the end, Tom Brady chose to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they weren't his first choice.
In a new in-depth column posted Sunday, ESPN's Seth Wickersham reported that Brady told the 49ers that they were his top choice and that the Niners did consider signing Brady even with Jimmy Garoppolo still on the roster.
"Brady made it clear through various channels that the team of his childhood would be the team of his future, if the 49ers wanted," Wickersham wrote. "The 49ers discussed it, but in the end, the team was committed to Jimmy Garoppolo."
Whispers about Brady and the 49ers had grown louder and louder over the last month. Rumors that coach Kyle Shanahan has doubts about Garoppolo's ceiling and decision-making seeped out from someone's camp, and the possibility of the 49ers signing Brady and trading Garoppolo back to the New England Patriots even arose.
Brady coming back home to lead the franchise he grew up rooting for to a Super Bowl title was a storybook ending fit for a Disney movie. The six-time Super Bowl legend finishing his career wearing the same colors as the player he idolized and supplanted as the GOAT would have been the ideal scenario for the legendary quarterback.
Of course, Brady wanted it. The 49ers, fresh off a loss in Super Bowl LIV, are stocked with a win-now roster and an offensive guru as a head coach. There's no doubt, whether the 49ers will admit it or not, that they discussed signing the 42-year-old quarterback.
He's Tom freaking Brady.
It's not a knock on Garoppolo to think about signing the greatest of all time. Garoppolo, after all, has seen Brady's legend up close and personal when he served as his backup with the Patriots.
Garoppolo was a solid quarterback in his first full year as a starter. He shook off the rust from his ACL recovery and effectively piloted Shanahan's offense as the team marched to the Super Bowl. He took too much heat at times and made winning plays than his detractors will admit.
But the awful interception became too frequent of an occurrence for Garoppolo. And while he played well for the middle part of the 49ers' Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, he was unable to make the winning throw when the game was on the line, overthrowing a wide-open Emmanuel Sanders on what could have been the game-winning touchdown. A title-clinching touchdown.
Would Brady have made the plays to bring home the Lombardi Trophy as he has done six times before? It seems likely. It's what he does. If the 49ers get back to the Super Bowl, can they rely on Garoppolo to finish the job? Perhaps we'll find out.
These are fair questions to ask. Unless you're Brady's Patriots, championship windows open and close in the blink of an eye. If you have questions about whether or not your quarterback can take you all the way, you should survey your options.
If Brady is available and he wants to come, you have to discuss the scenario.
The 49ers chose to stick behind Garoppolo, so Brady took his six rings to Tampa Bay, where next year's Super Bowl is set to be played. He'll team up with two Pro Bowl receivers and an offensive genius at head coach in Bruce Arians, looking to bring relevance to one of the NFL's most irrelevant franchises.
Time will tell if the 49ers made the right choice.