NFL rumors: 49ers 'discussed' signing QB Tom Brady in free agency

NFL rumors: 49ers 'discussed' signing QB Tom Brady in free agency

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. 

[RELATED: Report: Belichick offering Brady to 49ers led QB to leave]

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. 

'The Catch II' makes 49ers' top plays in franchise history: No. 15-11

'The Catch II' makes 49ers' top plays in franchise history: No. 15-11

Editor's note: This week, we'll be counting down the top 20 plays in 49ers franchise history. This installment will rank plays No. 15-11. Be sure to tune into "Super Bowl Week in America" every night this week on NBC Sports Network and streaming here.

The 49ers have played 70 seasons in the National Football League after four seasons (1946 to ‘49) in the All-America Football Conference.

As the 49ers prepare for the organization’s 75th season, it gives us reason to look back on the top plays in franchise history.

It’s subjective, of course. We tried to take into account historical significance, so a play that happens in the postseason is weighted in a way that reflects that. But some great plays simply stand on their own, regardless of when it occurred.

[RELATED: 49ers' top plays -- No. 20-16]

What follows is a list of the top 20 plays in 49ers history, with five plays unveiled each day from Tuesday to Friday:


[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' Richard Sherman: Drew Brees 'beyond lost' on kneeling comments

49ers' Richard Sherman: Drew Brees 'beyond lost' on kneeling comments

Richard Sherman joined a large group of NFL players angered and saddened by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees saying he still believes kneeling during the national anthem is "disrespecting the flag" on Wednesday. 

The 49ers star cornerback called Brees "beyond lost" and made it clear the peaceful protest never had anything to do with going against the military. 

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America, or our country," Brees said to Yahoo! Finance. "Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played or when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers who fought for this country during World War II. One in the Army and one in the Marine corps both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. 

"So every time I stand with my hand over my heart, looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that's what I think about. And in many cases, it brings me to tears thinking about all those who have sacrificed -- not just those in the military, but for that matter, those fought in the '60s and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point. 

"Is everything right with our country right now? No, it's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart is it shows unity. It shows we are all in this together, we can all do better and that we are all part of the solution."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Sherman recently spoke to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer about the importance of white quarterbacks speaking up right now regarding racism and police brutality in America after George Floyd, an African American man in Minneapolis, was killed last week in police custody. 

“I’m impressed with the white QBs speaking up because those are voices that carry different weight than the black voices for some people,” Sherman said to Breer. “Which means the people who refuse to listen to a black athlete’s perspective will hear the same thing said from a white athlete, but receive the message much differently. So it’s awesome that more people are speaking out, because in sports, you really have a love and appreciation for your fellow man, regardless of race.

“And I think that’s what makes sports and teams so special, because a lot of the stereotypes are torn down. You really get to know one another, not judge based off nonsense.”

[RELATED: Poole: Brees reveals he's part of problem, not solution]

Colin Kaepernick became the first athlete to kneel during the national anthem as a protest against racial and social injustices in the 2016 season when the quarterback still was a member of the 49ers. Kaepernick first sat on the bench during his protest, but after speaking with Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret who spent time with the Seattle Seahawks as a long snapper, the two agreed kneeling would be more productive.

Boyer supported Kaepernick's decision and stood by him while Kaepernick kneeled before a game in San Diego.

Kaepernick has not been signed by an NFL team since opting out of his 49ers contract ahead of the 2017 offseason, and general manager John Lynch also said in May 2017 the 49ers told the six-year NFL veteran they would release him if he didn't opt out of his contract.