Why Rapoport lists 49ers among Brady's top free-agency options

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Surprise, surprise.

The 49ers finished another regular season with plenty of conversation about their quarterback situation, though their sole focus at the moment, with rookie Brock Purdy under center, is winning a sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy.

But after the 49ers reached the NFL playoffs despite starting three different QBs, the upcoming offseason could pose some intriguing options for San Francisco -- one of which NFL Media's Ian Rapoport believes might be adding Bay Area native Tom Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion who will be a free agent.

"The [Tampa Bay Buccaneers] want to bring him back, and Brady, I'm told, has a great affection for the Glazers," Rapoport said Saturday on "NFL GameDay." "But if he decides he wants to play, which seems most likely, but he has not made a firm decision, among the teams to consider: The Las Vegas Raiders -- he'll have his old friend Josh McDaniels. The Tennessee Titans, which had interest in him last time, also have some questions at quarterback.

"And, of course, the San Francisco 49ers ... his hometown team from growing up."

The 49ers could take a variety of routes once the postseason ends, though how it ends certainly could impact their decision.

"Unbelievable situation this year -- third quarterback coming in, starting, leading them to the playoffs," Rapoport said. "It is all good, but it is something [the 49ers] got to figure out this offseason."

Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, is on schedule to return next season from the lower leg injury he suffered in Week 2. Jimmy Garoppolo stepped in admirably for Lance and contributed to the 49ers' 10-game win streak to end the season before breaking his foot in Week 13, though he's almost a sure-fire bet to hit the free-agent market come spring.

And Purdy, who came in for Garoppolo and immediately set the football world on fire, will be in the mix no matter how San Francisco's playoff run shakes out. But in Rapoport's eyes, Brady could serve as an intriguing outside choice apart from Lance or Purdy.

"Another option is door No. 2, which would be potentially Tom Brady," Rapoport said. "... We know he has an affinity for his hometown. We know he has an affinity for the 49ers -- he took so much time to take stock of things when he was there earlier this year.

"At least that is an option for the Niners. It's going to be fascinating to see what they end up doing after this playoffs."

In 2020, the 49ers strongly considered pursuing Brady as an unrestricted free agent. And three years later, coach Kyle Shanahan agreed that Brady still can sling it ahead of a Week 14 win over the Bucs.

RELATED: How Mama Bosa chose between Joey, Nick's playoff games today

The 49ers appear to have struck gold with Purdy, aka Mr. Irrelevant, and they haven't had much of a chance to see Lance's full skillset as an NFL starter. And whether Brady lands back in the Bay or not, the 49ers Faithful appear to be in for another wild offseason ride at quarterback.

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