Tom Brady officially retired from the NFL on Feb. 1, but one NFL pundit still believes the future Hall of Fame quarterback could wind up in the Bay Area.
NBC Sports' Mike Florio speculated that Brady might come out of retirement and play for the 49ers next season, even after the quarterback stated in his video announcement that he was calling it a career "for good."
"We’ve learned that Brady: (1) doesn’t always say publicly what he truly believes; and (2) sometimes says things he means, and eventually does something different," Florio wrote Thursday.
In the years leading up to his second retirement announcement, Brady always said he would hang up the cleats "when I suck." He didn't have his best season in 2022, but he still led the NFL in completions and pass attempts while throwing for 25 touchdowns.
“There’s always gonna be a part [of me] that wants to play and a part of me that, you know, feels like I can play,” Brady said on his "Let's Go!" podcast shortly after announcing his retirement. “I think there’s just a decision to know that it’s the right time.
"I think for me it’s more of just, it’s gonna end at some point, and I think now’s the time. And it’s not that I can’t do it. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to do it. It’s not that I wouldn’t be excited to play. I love playing football. I’ve loved playing football since I was a kid on the street on Portola Drive. So I think it’s just a decision that it’s time to do other things.”
Brady signed a contract to be a FOX Sports analyst but recently announced he won't enter the broadcast booth until the 2024 NFL season.
That open window combined with Brady's history of returning from last year's retirement announcement and the 49ers' need at quarterback all add up to an intriguing argument.
There is uncertainty under center in San Francisco. The 49ers boast two young, talented quarterbacks on their roster in Trey Lance and Brock Purdy but both still have massive question marks about their futures.
Lance, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, has just four career starts under his belt and is recovering from a season-ending ankle injury. Purdy, the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, might not be ready in time for training camp in July after surgery to repair his torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his elbow was postponed.
"Nothing can be ruled out at this point," Florio wrote. "Brady’s contract will expire next month, and he’ll become a free agent. The retirement letter he sent to the league and the union means jack diddly squat. He can play whenever, wherever, and for whomever he chooses.
"Even if he completely and entirely means it when he says he’s currently retired, it means nothing. What matters is how he feels as football season creeps toward him, one day at a time."
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Brady returning to any NFL team for a 24th season would be an incredible storyline. If he journeys down that path, the 49ers -- his favorite childhood team currently oozing with talent and attempting to climb over the championship hump -- could be a perfect match.