It’s no secret that the San Francisco 49ers were running out of quarterbacks late last season. After Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo suffered season-ending injuries, Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson went down in the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Niners were forced to have Purdy retake the field after he injured his elbow and simply have the rookie quarterback hand the ball off. Still, for a decent chunk of the game, the Niners were one big play away from a potential comeback.
As the game went on, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was confounded thinking about what the team would do if they found a way to advance to the Super Bowl. Shanahan was asked about the situation by The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on The TK Show podcast this week. Shanahan mentioned former Chargers and Colts quarterback Philip Rivers as a name that came to mind as he was thinking about what the team would do if they did indeed reach the Super Bowl.
“Whole thing I’m just thinking is, ‘Man, I hope Brock’s not as bad as they’re saying, and what’s going to be our Plan B?,” Shanahan said. “Are we going to have to get Philip Rivers, someone like that, for the Super Bowl?’ Because that’s what I’m thinking. ‘Cause I didn’t think Jimmy was going to be ready, and all I’m thinking is, ‘Man, I hope Brock is not bad as they’re saying, and someone like Philip Rivers is working out and ready to go here in two weeks because that’s still our plan.’ And when I accepted reality, it took me a while to get over.”
Rivers retired at the end of the 2020 season, but he reportedly reached out to multiple teams, including the Niners, about making a return after their rosters were depleted by injuries. The 49ers obviously decided to sign veteran backup Johnson instead of Rivers, but it seems from Shanahan’s comments that they would have looked into adding the eight-time Pro Bowler if Johnson and Purdy were unavailable. Rivers, of course, never reached a Super Bowl during his 17-year NFL career, and weirdly enough, he apparently was close to changing that last season.