According to ESPN reporter Seth Wickersham’s latest book, Brady spoke to Wes Welker about wanting to play for the Niners
Hello, hindsight. ESPN’s Seth Wickersham has a book coming out titled “It’s Better To Be Feared” that is a tell-all look at everything that’s happened behind the scenes with the New England Patriots during the Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady era.
Wickersham’s book is scheduled to publish next month. On Wednesday, he previewed a few talking points that’ll be included. From the Patriots receiving preferential treatment thanks to Roger Goodell’s relationship with Bill Belichick to the souring relationship between Kraft and Belichick, this book is sure to be a doozy.
NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco uncovered something in that book that Niners fans have known for a year and a half: Tom Brady wanted to play for the 49ers. So for a good portion of the latter half of February 2020 and into March, we talked about the potential of Brady coming back to the Bay Area.
Patriots reporter Tom Curran believed the chatter at the time was “real” and the 49ers were “closing hard” on Brady. But, based on Wickersham’s book, he said Brady grew tired of not having any input into the decision-making for the Patriots’ personnel moves.
Here’s a part of Maiocco’s article that includes Brady’s contract demands and him telling current 49ers wide receiver coach and former teammate Wes Welker about his intentions to play for the Niners:
Brady informed Welker, San Francisco’s wide receivers coach, if the 49ers were interested, he would finish his career in the Bay Area after 20 seasons and six Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots.
According to the book, Brady wrote down 20 or so elements he desired from his new team. His contract demand was considered reasonable: Two years, $50 million.
Brady informed Welker that if the 49ers wanted him, there would be “no free-agency tour, no bidding war, full stop; he would end his career where his love of football began, in scarlet and gold, allowing his parents to drive to (his) games for the first time since the 1990s,” according to the book.
A source confirms to NBC Sports Bay Area that the 49ers were made aware of Brady’s preference and, as is reported in the book, the organization was initially skeptical.
But Shanahan asked each of his offensive assistant coaches to watch all of Brady’s pass attempts from the 2019 season and provide their evaluations, Wickersham reports. Shanahan did the same while on vacation with his family in Cabo San Lucas.
According to the book, the 49ers coaches merely liked Brady’s film and concluded that Brady was only marginally better than Garoppolo at that stage of both men’s careers.
It’s not hindsight to admit Brady had an interest in playing for San Francisco. However, it is hindsight to say the 49ers should’ve gone after Brady considering the season he was coming off in 2019.
When you watch New England’s offense, it’s easy to see why they were bounced in the first round of the playoffs. Brady finished 17th in DVOA, 24th in EPA per play, 32nd in success rate, with a completion percentage over expectation of -2.5, which was 35th in the NFL, right below Mitchell Trubisky.
For comparison’s sake, Garoppolo finished 10th in DVOA, 9th in EPA per play, sixth in success rate, and 14th in CPOE.
Brady looked shot. Fast forward a season, and he won another Super Bowl. How much of the lack of success in New England was due to non-existent weapons? The Bucs were a significant upgrade.
Garoppoolo missed a season with a torn ACL, but he didn’t have a reputation as an injury-prone player. So the assumption was that Jimmy G would continue to ascend in Kyle Shanahan’s offense the more he played.
Unfortunately, Garoppolo didn’t play much in 2020 after a severe high-ankle sprain limited him. So how much of those 2019 numbers were due to Garoppolo’s surroundings? That’s another part of the evaluation that must be separated.
History hasn’t been kind to Shanahan, and the quarterbacks who aren’t on this roster and while not selecting the all-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback when he wanted to play for you is a tough pill to swallow, you have to think about where Brady was after 2019 and acknowledge that he was trending in the wrong direction.
Of course, if there were a player that could defy Father Time, even in his 40s, it’s Tom Brady.