We learned over the past two days the 49ers could have had Tom Brady and, as it turns out, Rob Gronkowski.
Instead, they settled for Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle.
General manager John Lynch confirmed the 49ers were made aware Brady wanted to return to the Bay Area to play for the club for which he was a fan as a kid growing up in San Mateo. But a team source told NBC Sports Bay Area that the 49ers also heard a similar sentiment was expressed to other teams around the league.
The fact that Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan talked about the possibility of signing Brady is no huge revelation. If the best quarterback of this generation wants to play for your club, you’re going to talk it out to see if it makes sense.
During an appearance Tuesday on the Rich Eisen Show, Lynch said after a day or two, he and Shanahan reached the same conclusion: It did not make sense for the 49ers to dump Garoppolo for Brady.
But while there were rumors and speculation about the 49ers’ intentions, neither Lynch nor Shanahan made any public statements.
Garoppolo appeared to be left twisting in the wind. But the 49ers concluded the perception really did not matter. As long as the 49ers informed Garoppolo of their intentions, that was all that mattered. And that is exactly what Lynch said happened. He said the organization kept Garoppolo informed every step of the way.
And that was the only way this situation could have occurred, as Garoppolo and Brady are represented by the same agent, Don Yee. And there was no reason for the 49ers to go public with a statement that could have been seen as disrespect for Brady.
On Monday, a month after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Brady to a two-year, fully guaranteed $50 million contract, Gronkowski came out retirement in stunning fashion. The Bucs acquired Gronkowski in a trade with the New England Patriots. Tampa Bay will pick up the final year of Gronkowski’s contract, which is worth $10 million.
Obviously, Gronkowski wanted to follow Brady. Would that have been the case if the 49ers had pursued and signed Brady? Probably.
But as was the case with Brady and Garoppolo, the 49ers would have faced an either/or situation with Gronkowski and Kittle.
There is little chance the 49ers could have afforded Gronkowski and Kittle. After all, it is highly possible the 49ers will have to get a multi-year extension done with Kittle before he steps on the field again.
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Kittle is scheduled to make $2.133 million in salary this season. His next contract is expected to earn him at least $12 million per season. And that was not going to happen if the 49ers had another tight end on the roster making $10 million.
So, ultimately, the 49ers went with Garoppolo-Kittle with a combined age of 54 over Brady-Gronkowski, 72.
That is one decision they are not likely to ever regret.