If that were the case, Kyle Shanahan was ready to bring Philip Rivers out of retirement to lead the San Francisco 49ers into the Super Bowl last season.
The 49ers, who had suffered various injuries in the past quarterback, ended up falling in the NFC Championship game to the Philadelphia Eagles. Apparently, Shanahan had been in touch with Rivers for the entire season about coming out of retirement.
“He was ready (to come out of retirement),” Shanahan said Thursday. “Now those are the things we talked about all year. We had to see what that was like for the Super Bowl, but that was the plan for most of the year.”
Rivers retired after the 2020 season, ending his 17-year career in the league. Rivers threw for over 63,000 yards and 421 touchdowns in his career. Longtime Los Angeles Chargers quarterback moved to Alabama, where He now works as a high school football coach. He and his wife announced last month that they are expecting their tenth child, in October.
Although he is now 41 years old, Rivers has been linked with several major league open positions since his retirement. He was reportedly open to stepping in for the Saints in 2021 after James Winston tore his ACL, and was in contact with both the 49ers and Miami Dolphins last season.
Shanahan and the 49ers had bad luck at quarterback last season. Tre Lance broke his ankle in the second week of the season, and was done for the year. That left the team running back to Jimmy Garoppolo, though he went down in Week 13 with a foot injury.
So, the 49ers had to turn to Brock Purdy – a former quarterback at Iowa who was the last man selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. Remarkably, Purdy went a perfect 5-0 in the regular season and had the 49ers all the way to the NFC title game. He was sacked on the Eagles’ first drive in that game, and suffered an elbow injury. Despite getting back in the game in the second half, the Eagles cruised to victory.
The 49ers’ situation was incredibly unique, but it’s easy to see why Shanahan was worried. Had they won that game and made it to the Super Bowl, Josh Johnson would have been the team’s only choice at quarterback.
While Rivers looks like he’ll eventually make it to the Hall of Fame, it’s unclear how he would have turned out in an unfamiliar situation — especially if it was in the Super Bowl. But hey, it’s not the worst idea.