Add former Patriots executive and close friend of Bill Belichick Mike Lombardi to the list.
Lombardi is now among those saying Tom Brady going back home to the Bay Area and the 49ers makes sense, as the 42-year-old is set to become a free agent for the first time in his 20-year career in a few short weeks.
Writing for The Athletic Friday, Lombardi details how it makes sense for Brady, but also how Jimmy Garoppolo wasn't the No. 1 option for Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco a few years ago and how he could potentially move on from him after just one full season as a starter that resulted in a NFC championship.
"Tom Brady’s case, returning home to the Bay Area and finishing out his career in the uniform of his favorite childhood team, the 49ers, might actually make some real sense. Going home might be the best place for him," Lombardi wrote.
The former Patriots executive detailed how Kirk Cousins was part of Shanahan's master rebuild plan until Garoppolo fell into his hands.
"Garoppolo was never part of Shanahan’s master plan," Lombardi continued. "Even after making the trade with the Patriots in October of 2017, he thought he was still going to sign Cousins when he hit free agency in 2018. All Jimmy G provided at the time of the trade was an asset, a quality player who was in demand throughout the NFL. The 49ers believed after making the initial trade that they could convert Garoppolo into a higher pick than the second-rounder sent to the Patriots. This is one of the reasons they made the midseason deal — they had a chance to add more assets to their portfolio.
"After they completed the deal, the 49ers were not shy about admitting they could send Garoppolo to another team like the Browns for a future first. Then something occurred that even Shanahan could not ignore: Garoppolo played well, extremely well, far beyond what Shanahan had expected."
Lombardi then goes on to explain how getting Brady would help the 49ers in the short-term and then Garoppolo could be flipped for future assets to a team looking for a quarterback. It wouldn't just be the Patriots in the mix, either. Garoppolo would definitely have a strong market.
It's also worth noting the organization has two up-and-coming quarterbacks in Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard, so they wouldn't have absolutely nothing for the future beyond Brady.
"Of all the teams in the mix for Brady, the 49ers make sense — not only because Brady’s mind and experience would give them an immediate improvement at the position, but because of Shanahan’s skills as a quarterback evaluator for the future," Lombardi concluded.
While the 49ers really just started being discussed as a possible destination a week ago, the talk has actually picked up steam, which could mean they are in fact really in play.