Does 2023 interest in Tom Brady mean 49ers will consider alternatives to Brock Purdy in 2024?

Last week, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy said the team tried to get Tom Brady to be the starter in 2023. Obviously, they didn't.

The situation invites curiosity as to whether they'll try something similar for 2024.

No, they likely won't try to get Brady again. (Unless they do.) However, quarterback Kirk Cousins is slated for unrestricted free agency in March. Coach Kyle Shanahan and Cousins have long been linked. Six days before Cousins suffered a torn Achilles tendon, he had arguably the best game of his career on a Monday night against the 49ers.

The final decision likely will depend on what Purdy does when the stakes are the highest. He didn't have a spectacular game on Saturday night against the Packers, but San Francisco won. If Purdy doesn't have a great game in either the NFC Championship or, if they win, in the Super Bowl (and they lose), will Shanahan's eye wander again?

He's been searching for quarterback nirvana ever since he joined the 49ers in 2017. Initially, he was waiting for Cousins to become a free agent in 2018. That prompted Shanahan to not take a close look at Patrick Mahomes in the draft, where the 49ers held the second overall pick. Along the way to signing Cousins, someone talked Shanahan into trading for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Shanahan eventually fell out of love with Jimmy G, investing three first-rounders and a third-rounder in Trey Lance. That was a complete failure, balanced out only by the fact that Purdy cost the 49ers the last pick in the draft to get.

And while it seemed throughout much of the 2023 season that Purdy was and is the guy going forward, we now know Shanahan preferred Brady to Purdy before 2023 started. Will Shanahan decide he prefers Cousins (or someone else) to Purdy for 2024?

Purdy is under contract for two more years, at very low, slotted salaries. They can't even re-do his rookie deal until after the 2024 season.

Ultimately, the decision will be made based on how well, or not, Purdy plays this weekend and, if they advance, two weeks later. The fact that Shanahan wanted Brady even after Purdy replaced Garoppolo and took the 49ers to the NFC Championship shows there are no sacred cows in Santa Clara. Shanahan wants to win a Super Bowl, and he won't hesitate to try to upgrade at the quarterback position — even if he assumes the risk of having things blow up in his face.