The 49ers held internal discussions shortly after their Super Bowl loss in February of 2020 to consider the possibility of signing Tom Brady to replace Jimmy Garoppolo.
That much was already known.
Coach Kyle Shanahan informed Garoppolo at the time that the 49ers had meetings to discuss Brady -- inarguably one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the sport.
“When you have to talk to Jimmy about one of the best quarterbacks of all time being available, I know Jimmy has a goal to be that,” Shanahan told Bay Area reporters in June of 2020.
Ultimately, the 49ers decided against pursuing Brady, now 44, to replace Garoppolo, who is 15 years younger and still had three years remaining on the lucrative contract he signed with the 49ers after the 2017 season.
Reportedly, there would have been no challenge for the 49ers to sign Brady as a free agent if the franchise had decided to move in that direction.
Shortly after the 49ers’ Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Brady called his former teammate Wes Welker, according to a new book about the New England Patriots dynasty, “It’s Better To Be Feared,” by ESPN reporter Seth Wickersham.
Brady informed Welker, San Francisco’s wide receivers coach, if the 49ers were interested, he would finish his career in the Bay Area after 20 seasons and six Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots.
According to the book, Brady wrote down 20 or so elements he desired from his new team. His contract demand was considered reasonable: Two years, $50 million.
Brady informed Welker that if the 49ers wanted him, there would be “no free-agency tour, no bidding war, full stop; he would end his career where his love of football began, in scarlet and gold, allowing his parents to drive to (his) games for the first time since the 1990s,” according to the book.
Brady grew up in San Mateo as a fan of the 49ers, and his parents still live on the peninsula.
A source confirms to NBC Sports Bay Area that the 49ers were made aware of Brady’s preference and, as is reported in the book, the organization was initially skeptical.
But Shanahan asked each of his offensive assistant coaches to watch all of Brady’s pass attempts from the 2019 season and provide their evaluations, Wickersham reports. Shanahan did the same while on vacation with his family in Cabo San Lucas.
According to the book, the 49ers coaches merely liked Brady’s film and concluded that Brady was only marginally better than Garoppolo at that stage of both men’s careers.
Garoppolo, in his first full year as the starter, finished the 2019 season with 3,978 passing yards to rank No. 4 in franchise history, and his 69.1 completion percentage was third all time among 49ers quarterbacks in a single season, behind only Hall of Famers Steve Young and Joe Montana.
Meanwhile, Brady was coming off one of the least-productive seasons of his career. In his final season with the New England Patriots, his completion percentage was down to 60.8, his 6.8 yards per attempt was his lowest since 2006, and his passer rating and QBR were at or near the bottom of his career.
The 49ers passed, and Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title in his first season with the organization.
Meanwhile, Garoppolo sustained a high-ankle sprain in Week 2 and appeared in just six games.
In the offseason, the 49ers looked at several veteran quarterbacks before sending two future first-round draft picks, and a third-rounder, to the Miami Dolphins to move up nine spots in the draft to select North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick.