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Scott Zolak Cooks Up Incredible Theory On Tom Brady Playing For 49ers Next Season

BOSTON (CBS) -- We all thought we wouldn't have to deal with the Brett Favre-esque will-he-or-won't-he drama regarding Tom Brady when he told the world that he was "not going to make that competitive commitment" to play football anymore last week. Alas, we were wrong.

Brady left the door open to returning to the field when he spoke with Jim Gray this week on their podcast, offering the phrase "never say never" with regard to unretiring. The Buccaneers haven't placed him on the reserve/retired list yet, his contract is still valid, he was an elite quarterback last season, and he came within a hair of beating the NFC's Super Bowl representative in the playoffs. So until Brady is seen lounging poolside with a pina colada and a rack of ribs by his side in September, speculators will speculate about his return.

Enter Scott Zolak. The Patriots' radio analyst and co-host of Zolak & Bertrand on 98.5 The Sports Hub engineered an idea this week which has Brady returning to the NFL next season, but not to the Buccaneers.

Zolak thinks that Brady is "focused on" joining his hometown San Francisco 49ers.

"I just think that that's what Brady's focused on. He's been focused on it for two years, and they've gotta deal Jimmy [Garoppolo], and he knows that [Trey] Lance isn't ready, he knows that team is built to win now," Zolak said on the air on Tuesday. "That's attractive to him. Name another one that's attractive, where it's plug and play. And now you plug and play, and you trade Jimmy Garoppolo to Tampa Bay for the rights to Tom Brady, and then let him decide when he's ready to go, you become an instant contender in the West."

It is, obviously, a rather fascinating scenario.

On the one hand, everyone -- including Garoppolo himself -- believe Jimmy G.'s time in San Francisco is over. The team can cut or trade him while absorbing a minimal cap hit this offseason, and the Niners also traded significant draft capital to move up and select Trey Lance with the third overall pick last spring.

But, as Zolak noted, what if Lance isn't ready to lead a team that is good enough to contend right now? He started just two games last season. He did well enough, averaging 8.5 yards per pass while throwing five touchdowns and two interceptions, and also rushing for 168 yards and a touchdown on 38 attempts.

But the Niners -- much like Brady's Bucs -- came oh-so-close to beating the Rams in the playoffs. While Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch seem to believe Jimmy G. is not the guy to get the 49ers where they need to be, what if they don't believe Lance is capable of doing that in 2022, either?

It's a fascinating scenario, no doubt. The 49ers passed on signing Brady in 2020, opting instead to stick with Jimmy G. Now they'd essentially get a mulligan, giving the keys to an offense that features Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Elijah Mitchell over to Tom Brady, with a chance to win the first Super Bowl in the Bay Area since the days of Steve Young.

It's all speculation, of course. But again, with Brady leaving the door open, and with some unhappiness with the Bucs organization seemingly showing late this past season, theories like this one will continue to persist. Few will be as juicy as this one, though.

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