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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan: 49ers ‘didn’t come close’ to signing Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t reached ceiling

Apr 28, 2020 at 7:32 PM--

There are some in the media who want to make a bigger deal than they should out of the San Francisco 49ers contemplating whether or not to sign Tom Brady this offseason. The team did have those discussions. General manager John Lynch admitted that. Those discussions didn't get very far, though, and Brady ended up signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In the end, the 49ers brain trust felt comfortable with Jimmy Garoppolo, and signing a quarterback who will turn 43 years old before the start of next season didn't make a whole lot of sense for a team that prides itself in building to win now while keeping the long-term picture in focus.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan this week joined Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on his podcast, The TK Show, and was asked how seriously the 49ers considered replacing Garoppolo with Brady. His response didn't veer off the path that Lynch set while discussing the topic.

A discussion between Shanahan and Lynch needed to be had, though. This was, after all, Tom Brady who was becoming available. There were probably a lot of teams around the league that held similar discussions, but the dots from Brady to San Francisco, at least from the quarterback's perspective, aligned nicely and made a great story.

"We had to seriously discuss it to decide whether to go forward to where it could come close or not," Shanahan told Kawakami. "It didn't come close, but that's why John and I had to put the time into it. If you would have asked us that right after the Super Bowl — I mean, Tom Brady, everyone knows what Tom Brady is, and how unbelievable he's been — but if you had asked us that right after the Super Bowl, that's kind of unheard of. It's a pipe dream. Like, you don't really think about that."

Garoppolo made more sense for the 49ers, at least in the long-term. Sure, Brady signing with San Francisco, the hometown team he admired and cheered for as a kid, would have made for great headlines, but they would have been headlines for one or two years.

The 49ers are focused on sustaining success, and investing in a 42-year-old quarterback doesn't reflect that.

"We were so happy with our team and happy with Jimmy," Shanahan continued. "And yeah, it didn't end the way we wanted it. We can all do better; myself, Jimmy, and I expect it."

No one can debate Brady's accomplishments. No one has earned more Super Bowl rings. He's arguably the best to play the game. Although, the Niner Faithful might be willing to argue against that.

The point is, when you hear chatter that a player of Brady's caliber might be interested in joining your team, a discussion has to be had. It sounds like that discussion reassured Lynch and Shanahan that they like what they have in place now, a Super Bowl-caliber roster led by a quarterback who won 15 games — including the playoffs — in his first full season as a starter.

"And then, all of a sudden, you hear arguably the greatest quarterback of all time is all of a sudden available," Shanahan said, "and there is a possibility that he could want to come to your team, and things like that. And when you hear that stuff, and it actually is realistic, for you not to look into it, to me, would be completely irresponsible.

"Once we realized and heard this could be realistic, this isn't just talk, we looked into it all, especially with the respect we have for Tom and everything, and how great of a player he is. We looked into it to try to see if it would be better for our team this year and in the future. When we weighed it all together, we didn't think it would.

"We felt great with where we were at, and kind of confirmed how we are with Jimmy."

Garoppolo did, perhaps unfairly, shoulder much of the criticism for the 49ers' Super Bowl loss in February to the Kansas City Chiefs. A whole lot of Brady-to-49ers speculation followed, which made for some attention-grabbing headlines but, apparently, didn't get as far as many thought.

Garoppolo, by the way, finished the regular season having completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,978 yards with 27 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a passer rating of 102.0. That passing-yard total was good enough to rank fourth all-time in franchise history. That's pretty good for an organization that has had quarterbacks like Joe Montana and Steve Young.

"Jimmy had a real good year last year," Shanahan added. "I expect him to continue to get better. I don't think he's achieved his ceiling yet. Last year was his first year ever going through a full season as a quarterback. He hadn't played longer than five games, I think, in a year prior to that.

"He had some ups and downs, but I think he finished the second half of the year playing so much better than the first half of the year. Didn't have to do a lot in the playoffs, but I can't wait to get back, where he's not worrying about an ACL all offseason either.

"He's just grinding film, getting ready for the season, and hopefully he learned a lot from last year."

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