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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Rumor: Philip Rivers contacted 49ers last season about coming out of retirement

Mar 6, 2023 at 2:19 PM

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By December 4, 2022, the San Francisco 49ers had already lost two starting quarterbacks—Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. So they turned to Brock Purdy, a rookie, for the remainder of the season and kept on winning. The Purdy-helmed 49ers made it to the NFC Championship Game before the young quarterback suffered a severe injury himself—a torn ligament in his right elbow.

The 49ers were 8-4 when Purdy started his first career game and had won five consecutive contests. It was a team on the rise, attracting the attention of one retired quarterback.

According to Rich Eisen, who ranked the top five rumors he heard at the NFL Scouting Combine, Philip Rivers contacted the 49ers and the Miami Dolphins about coming out of retirement and helping one of the talented and seemingly quarterback-needy teams down the stretch.

It turns out the 49ers didn't need Rivers. Purdy won his first start and the six that followed. However, an argument can be made that San Francisco could have used one more quarterback against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC title game. Both Purdy and his backup, Josh Johnson, were injured.

"Philip Rivers contacted both of them, is what I heard, and that's the way I heard it, to see if they would [be interested]," Eisen said. "Didn't happen. Don't know why it didn't happen, but I heard that at the Combine, that Philip, once his season was over, was kind of like, 'So the 49ers are going with Mr. Irrelevant?'"

Rivers announced his retirement after the 2020 season. The quarterback spent 16 seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers and a season with the Indianapolis Colts. He finished his career with a 64.9 percent completion percentage, throwing for 63,440 career yards with 421 touchdowns and 209 interceptions, adding three rushing touchdowns.

Rivers is 41 years old.

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