|coulda, not shoulda
Even up until the day he actually retired, there was speculation the San Francisco 49ers would go get Tom Brady, so the pride of San Mateo could finish his career with his boyhood team, the team that made him want to be a quarterback, the team that has the only man who can argue his GOAT status in Joe Montana (a few of you probably thought I'd say Jimmy Garoppolo).
Of course it had been revealed several months earlier that when Brady left the Patriots for good, San Francisco (rather, Santa Clara) was his preferred destination to finish his career. But while head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch were certainly interested in Brady- who wouldn't be- they ultimately decided that getting Brady wasn't worth it, even with a near-Super Bowl roster that they had, and still have.
At first glance, turning down TB12 seems like a rather silly idea. It's Tom Freaking Brady! Why wouldn't the 49ers say yes? Two years of Tom would've almost guaranteed them one Super Bowl trophy, like what happened in Tampa, the place Brady DID go.
But the true answers as to why they turned down TB12 are happening now.
First of all, Tampa is done as a serious Super Bow threat for what, five years? Ten? There's no way Bruce Arians lasts more than a year as head coach. He'll be 70 sometime around week five of this upcoming season (born October 3, 1952- still younger than Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick!) and there's no way he's sticking around for the rebuild- no surprise if he chooses to walk away sometime soon.
And that's the second part- the rebuild. Nearly much every other offensive skill player on the Bucs you've heard of is not going to be on the team next fall, whether that's retirement (Gronk), waving goodbye while at the Meadowlands (Antonio Brown), some kind of trade (if you think Mike Evans is going run great routes and watch Kyle Trask overthrow him by 15 yards every time, you're nuts), or the old reliable, free agency (Playoff Lenny, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard....).
As for the draft, the Bucs have the 27th pick in the first round. Ain't no way you're getting a week-one starting quarterback from there. And there was no reason for them to really go after a QB the last two years, not with TB12 at the helm. It was all-or-bust there, too. (No, Kyle Trask is not the answer, nor is Blaine Gabbert. Blaine Gabbert has never been the answer at quarterback, not ever.)
So, back to the 49ers, and Kyle and John. If you get Brady, you certainly don't have Trey Lance on your roster because you're not drafting that high. You don't even have the perfectly acceptable Jimmy Garoppolo, since Brady would command $35 million-plus and Jimmy G was getting paid $25 million.
Because the goal of Shanahan and Lynch has never been "win once and sink back down." They are trying to create a Patriots-like run of dominance. Failing that, a Packers-like run of "being in the mix every year" would be fine as long as the QB's ego doesn't explode into a supernova.
But neither of those scenarios involves blowing up the roster for two years of Brady, which is what Tampa did, and they will sink back to the bottom of the NFC South and become irrelevant (I guess going back to the creamsicle jerseys will be more than appropriate).
If you've noticed what the 49ers have done, it's been a build to succeed at a high level for a long time to come. It's why they signed Jimmy G to a five-year deal after he played just five games for them in 2017. It's also why they traded for the 3rd pick so they could get Trey Lance (I never believed they would take Mac Jones, and I don't understand why people believed that smoke) and only gave up 3 first round picks, hoping that two of them would be well back in the draft (and that's happened- they gave up the 14th pick last year, this year's pick will be number 29, and at minimum if they make the playoffs next year the 2023 pick will be 17th, and hopefully it'll end up being 32nd).
And in the first five years of the Shanahan/Lynch era, the 49ers have been to a Super Bowl and made the NFC title game. Lots of franchises would like to have that kind of five-year run. But because Jimmy G couldn't stay healthy, negating at least one playoff berth (though they finished 6-10 in 2020, they really should have been 8-8 even without Jimmy G- at least two 4th quarter meltdowns should have been wins, and probably more). They realized a healthy QB makes the difference. With Brady, that's a maximum of three seasons to make the difference.
A healthy Trey Lance playing to his potential? That's a decade, or more, of dominance. Maybe he doesn't get to Brady or Montana status. How about challenging Steve Young on the 49ers QB ladder? I'd be very ok with that. And so would the rest of the faithful.
|I got 5 on it