Kyle Shanahan detailed the 49ers’ level of interest in signing Tom Brady last offseason in an interview with NBC’s Peter King published Monday before the team enters the Super Bowl stage.
Brock Purdy, the team’s No. 1 starter, was recovering from elbow surgery. Trey Lance, who has since been traded, also carried numerous injury concerns. Brady, 46, had just retired from the NFL but had already un-retired once. With so much uncertainty in the quarterback room, could the greatest quarterback ever have been had?
“Yes, I was serious about it,” Shanahan told King. “As we talked, I’m looking at Brock, and he’s got his arm in a sling, and I really am not sure I’ve got a quarterback who’s going to be ready for the start of the 2023 season. That started all of this.”
The revelation that San Francisco was interested in Brady bubbled to the surface when Purdy told ESPN, “I remember (Shanahan) saying, if we can get Tom Brady, we’re going to get him. And I was like, ‘Yeah, he’s the GOAT. I get it.’”
Shanahan’s comments published Monday only confirm Purdy’s retelling. Shanahan was interested in Brady, but the San Mateo native remained retired. San Francisco signed veteran Sam Darnold as insurance, and Shanahan had to make sure he didn’t shake Purdy’s confidence with the Brady flirtation.
That part appeared to be easy.
“I actually thought it was giving Brock the biggest compliment,” Shanahan said. “I let him know he’s our guy long-term. No question. And if Tom Brady wanted to come here and start for one year, that’s the only way you’re not starting when you’re healthy this year. That’s pretty cool. I wanted to assure him, ‘Don’t worry. You’re our guy. But how cool would it be if Tom Brady would be the quarterback here for one season? How cool would it be for you to learn from him?’”
Purdy ended up being ready for Week 1 and earned every bit of faith Shanahan had in him. He operated the 49ers’ offense wonderfully, recording 31 passing touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Pro Bowler’s 113 quarterback rating led the NFL, as did his yards per attempt and touchdown percentage.
Purdy, who went last in the 2021 draft, led the 49ers to the Super Bowl as an MVP candidate. Even if it’s possible Brady could have done the same, it’s tough to have regrets when you’re one win away from the franchise’s first Lombardi trophy since 1994.