A funny thing happened after I told SIRIUS radio host Adam Schein on Tuesday that the San Francisco 49ers were “closing hard on the outside” in the Tom Brady Sweepstakes.

People who KNOW THINGS reached out to say, “Do NOT back off of that…”

I was half-joking when I initially said it. Schein asked me where Brady would end up, I guessed, “Fifty-percent chance to the Patriots, 50 percent chance to the Titans ...”. That’s 100 percent.

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I tossed in the Niners because Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio and NFL Network’s Deion Sanders had separately spitballed on the possibility of Brady landing in San Fran with Jimmy Garoppolo landing back with the Patriots.

When what I said gained traction, my first thought was, “Nice work, dummy. You dropped a match into a pile of dried leaves. Start stomping on the flames.”

But then came the people telling me they were hearing the same thing. And people I didn’t speak to directly — like the estimable Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald — reached out to their sources and got back opaque confirmation that, “Yeah. There could be something there.”

None of this chatter indicates the Niners are camped outside the office of Brady’s agent Don Yee waiting for the legal tampering period to start so they can make their pitch.


It’s flimsy. But it’s persistent. Why?

First, Brady would love to play there. Second, as much as Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan likes Garoppolo, I’ve been told by multiple sources that he’s got some reservations about Garoppolo’s ceiling and overall decision making.

Enough to use the emergency exit the Niners built into Garoppolo’s contract? That would be a bold move. But ask yourself: Why is the option to move on from Garoppolo with minimal penalty even there? Just in case? In case of what?

In case the chance for an upgrade exists.

Then you get to the questions that Shanahan, GM John Lynch and owner Jed York would have to address.

Is Brady an upgrade at 43?

Would it be wise to move on from Garoppolo, court Brady and hope that Shanahan’s first love — Kirk Cousins — can be landed to succeed Brady?

Would the Niners locker room embrace it?

Would the Niners cut a good quarterback — which Garoppolo undeniably is — with manageable base salary numbers and cap hits if they didn’t KNOW they would get Brady?

Would they try to deal Garoppolo to the highest bidder or do the Patriots a solid by sending him back to Foxboro the way Belichick did Shanahan a solid in 2017?

And if the Niners cut Jimmy, would Yee want to see Garoppolo go back to the Patriots?

The only way this whole scenario works — a place for Tom is cleared and Garoppolo returns — is if the Niners dealt Garoppolo back here.

That’s ... a lot. But Brady to San Fran?

"I have spoken to executives with eight different teams that are at the very least monitoring Tom Brady's free agency," ESPN’s Jeff Darlington said Wednesday. "They are going down this list having internal discussions right now saying, 'Is this the right fit for our organization?' "

The 49ers are among the eight. They are not among the four teams that Darlington suggested would — if the opportunity presented itself — sign Brady tomorrow.

It’s important to note, this Darlington report isn’t people from “camps” talking about what they think the market for Brady is. It’s executives from specific teams expressing varying levels of interest in Brady.

Turns out, it’s real. Who knew?

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