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Tom Brady to the 49ers? Even as a Steelers fan, that rumor makes me angry.
I know what you’re going to say, “Why is this article on a Steelers site?”
I’ll tell you why, it’s March. But that’s not the only reason. When I first heard about the possibility that San Francisco was emerging as a destination for Tom Brady, the six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the New England Patriots, I was legit angry.
Why? It just doesn’t make any sense.
Actually, I lied earlier. I wasn’t legit angry right away. When I first heard it, I just thought it was some silly rumor thrown out by someone who didn’t know what he or she was talking about. But then when I read that this story actually had legs—and that the 49ers had indeed emerged as a favorite to land Brady—that’s when I got angry.
Again, it just doesn’t compute in the football world and with that football team.
How long does it take for a team to find a really good quarterback after having a really good quarterback? Decades, right? But San Francisco got lucky in the late-1980s when it somehow traded for Steve Young while Joe Montana was still on the roster and had two more Super Bowl victories in his future.
The 49ers made that work—getting two highly-competitive and talented quarterbacks to work together for more than one season without it destroying the locker room—before Montana left via free agency in the early-90s and Young took over and led them to yet another Super Bowl in 1994.
Both Montana and Young wound up in the Hall of Fame.
As parity would have it, the 49ers quickly devolved into one of the laughingstocks of the NFL by the early-00s—a place they would stay for many years. Yes, Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick eventually came along and made them legit contenders once again. But it didn’t last, and it was back to mediocrity for San Francisco yet again.
But midway through the 2017 season, both Brady and Patriots owner Bob Kraft managed to convince head coach Bill Belichick to trade Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco in exchange for a measly second-round draft choice.
If ever there was a legit heir apparent in recent years, it was Garoppolo. And the fact that he was waiting in the wings to succeed Brady, well, that just made it feel like the Patriots Super Bowl dynasty would continue for infinity.
But once the trade happened, you could not only see the eventual end of the road for New England, but the beginning of something special for the 49ers, a team that, despite its struggles since the ‘90s, was clearly still a national franchise with a national following, just waiting to re-emerge.
After that pesky ACL injury that sidelined both Garoppolo and the 49ers in 2018, San Francisco was back on top in 2019, advancing all the way to the Super Bowl, before succumbing to a fourth-quarter comeback by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
But the 49ers, complete with a fierce defense, productive running game, budding superstar tight end and, yes, really good quarterback that was still a couple birthdays shy of his 30th, definitely served notice that they would be around for a while to compete for many more Lombardi trophies.
Now these rumors?
Why, because Brady grew up in the shadows of old Candlestick Park? That would make sense if we were in the Mike Singletary era and he was ejecting his own players (Vernon Davis) and addressing his team with his pants down.
It would also make sense if Brady was a couple birthdays shy of his 30th. Instead, he’s about to turn 43, which is why the language in his last contract allowed him to explore free agency in the first place—no way would a 28-year old Brady have such favorable stipulations in his contract.
If these rumors are true, and the 49ers are indeed serious about signing Brady, what exactly are they thinking? They have everything in place to win at least one Super Bowl with Garoppolo and Co., and they’re potentially going to wreck it by bringing in a 43-year old quarterback who appeared to finally be on the other side of elite in 2019?
Are they trying to be the Redskins of the West? I’m only asking because this is the kind of thing that once proud organization would do under the “leadership” of owner Dan Snyder.
Again, the 49ers are a national team with a national following. This isn’t something they need to do in order to sell tickets. When it comes to a franchise with that kind of following, simply finding the right parts is enough to energize the fan base—as a Steelers fan, I know what I’m talking about in that regard.
Even if Brady goes there and wins a title, would it really be worth it? It might seem like it in the moment, but probably not when the 49ers are again a laughingstock for many years soon after that. You only get so many chances to get it right with a quarterback.
Don’t screw this up, San Francisco.
Besides, there’s no way Jimmy G. would stick around after that (not that it could work financially anyway), and do you want Garoppolo to go on back to the Patriots? I think you know how that would end…for all of us.