Several months ago, rumors swirled that the San Francisco 49ers were interested in luring Tom Brady out of retirement. At the time, the Niners’ starting quarterback, Brock Purdy, was recovering from a procedure to repair an elbow injury.
Purdy, the last selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in the first quarter of the NFC championship game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Reports later surfaced claiming Niners coach Kyle Shanahan informed Purdy the team planned to pursue Brady for the 2023 season.
Purdy recently discussed his exchange with his head coach, saying, “I remember him (Shanahan) saying, ‘If we can get Tom Brady, we’re going to try to get him. And I was like, ‘Yeah, he’s the GOAT. I get it.'”
John Lynch, the 49ers general manager, then addressed the Brady speculation during a recent appearance on “The Eye Test for Two” podcast.
“So, when it first happened, we’re really searching, like, ‘What are we going to do at quarterback? We don’t know if we’re going to have Brock back,'” Lynch said. “Trey [Lance] had been hurt as well. He kind of [suffered] a vicious ankle injury, and that didn’t look really good. So, we had to look at all our options.”
Lynch then suggested Brady would have handled the starting quarterback duties this season if he ended up on the 49ers roster.
“And I think Kyle and Brock really have honest conversations. At some point, he said, ‘Look, I guess the one way you’re not a starter if you’re healthy is if we go get someone like Brady.’ And I presume that’s what happened, but anytime you mention something like that, it’s obviously going to make quite a story.”
Lynch made it clear the organization always maintained a level of confidence in Purdy and looking into other options was an attempt to create some certainty at quarterback as the former Iowa State standout worked his way back from his injury.
“It was, I think, more of a sign of belief in him that, ‘Hey, you took us [far] in your rookie year. We believe that you’re our guy,” Lynch said. “As you’re healing up, just understand we may have to go secure some other options.
“I think then we started tracking his progress, and he was beating every timeline throughout that, as a credit to his healing ability, the genes that he was blessed with. But probably, more importantly, the work ethic and the vigor with which he attacked his rehab allowed him to beat all the timelines and be ready right when our season started.”
Despite all the talk about Brady potentially taking his spot, Purdy managed to lift the Niners to an NFC title this season. He finished the regular season with 4,280 passing yards and 31 touchdowns against 11 interceptions.
Purdy will look to further silence any doubters when the 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in this year’s Super Bowl in Las Vegas.