49ers could eye Brady in late playoff run as they did with Rivers

49ers could eye Brady in late playoff run as they did with Rivers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

It almost happened 15 months ago.

By “almost,” we mean if the 49ers had somehow overcome injuries to their only two active quarterbacks and defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game.

Yes, the 49ers were planning to lure Philip Rivers out of retirement for the Super Bowl, as coach Kyle Shanahan revealed a few months after the fact.

Now, any team in a similar desperate situation late in the season can plan on making their first phone call to seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.

Brady, who turns 47 on Aug. 3, said on a recent “DeepCuts with VicBlends” appearance that he is keeping the door open to return to the NFL if he has a chance to win an eighth Super Bowl as an emergency fill-in.

"I'm not opposed to it,” Brady said. “I don't know if they're going to let me if I become an owner of an NFL team. I don't know. I'm always going to be in good shape, always going to be able to throw the ball. So, to come in for a little bit, like (Michael Jordan) coming back? I don't know if they'd let me, but I wouldn't be opposed to it."

Teams are constantly updating their contingency plans at every position. And the 49ers identified Rivers as an available player they would target if they ever ran out of quarterbacks and needed to add somebody who could step in with little notice and win a game.

Trey Lance opened the 2022 season as the 49ers’ starter. He sustained a season-ending ankle in Week 2. Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a broken foot in early December. Brock Purdy was elevated into the starting lineup. Then, the 49ers signed veteran Josh Johnson and kept Garoppolo on the 53-man roster for the possibility he could return if the 49ers prolonged their season.

In the first quarter of the NFC Championship game against the Eagles, Purdy sustained a torn ligament in his right elbow. The 49ers turned to Johnson, but he was knocked from the game in the third quarter due to a concussion. Purdy, unable to throw, re-entered the game and the Eagles cruised to a 31-7 victory.

Even if the 49ers had won, Purdy would not have been available for the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs and Garoppolo probably would not have been ready, either.

In August, Shanahan said the plan was to sign Rivers, who last started all 16 games for the Indianapolis Colts during the 2020 season. Rivers was 41 at the time.

“He was prepared to,” Shanahan said of Rivers’ willingness to sign with the 49ers. “Now that’s stuff we talked about throughout the whole year. We would’ve had to see how that was for the Super Bowl, but that was the plan most of the year.”

Rivers, who is the head varsity coach at St. Michael Catholic in Fairhope, Alabama, might still be on the list of some teams.

But, now, Brady has made it known that under the right circumstances, he might still have some football left in him, too.

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