Would the San Francisco 49ers really consider signing Tom Brady to have the quarterback replace former backup Jimmy Garoppolo?
In short: Yes.
The 49ers never offered Brady a contract in free agency, and head coach Kyle Shanahan insisted to The Athletic's Tim Kawakami that his team "didn't come close" to signing the 42-year-old quarterback.
But Shanahan confirmed he and general manager John Lynch had discussions about Brady as rumors emerged that he may leave the New England Patriots.
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"We had to seriously discuss it to decide whether to go forward to where it could come close or not," Shanahan told Tim Kawakami on "The TK Show," as transcribed by NBC Sports Bay Area. "So it didn't come close, but that's why John and I had to put the time into it."
Our Tom E. Curran was among the first to report in early March that San Francisco was a legitimate suitor in the Brady sweepstakes. Brady is a Bay Area native and six-time Super Bowl champion, after all, and the 49ers had just lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs.
At the very least, Shanahan and Lynch were aware that Brady was ready for a change after 20 seasons in New England.
"All of a sudden, you hear arguably the greatest quarterback of all time is all of a sudden available, and there is a possibility that he could want to come to your team, and things like that," Shanahan said. "And when you hear that stuff, and it actually is realistic, for you not to look into it, to me, would be completely irresponsible.
"Once we realized and heard this could be realistic -- this isn't just talk -- we looked into it all, especially with the respect we have for Tom and everything, and how great of a player he is. We looked into it to try to see if it would be better for our team this year and in the future."
After some deliberation, Shanahan and Lynch determined Garoppolo was their guy, showing confidence in the 28-year-old despite his underwhelming performance in Super Bowl LIV and a torn ACL that cost him 13 games in 2018.
"We felt great with where we were at, and kind of confirmed how we are with Jimmy," Shanahan said.
So, there you have it: The Niners actually did give thought to engineering a Brady homecoming but ultimately chose his ex-backup, leading Brady to land with a "dark horse" in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.