Had the 49ers beaten the Eagles in the NFC championship game, there’s a good chance Philip Rivers would have been under center for the team during the Super Bowl. Kyle Shanahan confirmed as much today, saying the organization planned to sign the retired quarterback had they won that game (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle).
Despite having not seen the field since the 2020 campaign, the 41-year-old quarterback was in the team’s contingency plan towards the end of the postseason. With Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance out of the picture, the 49ers rolled into the NFC championship game with Josh Johnson as the top backup to Brock Purdy. Both Purdy and Johnson were injured in that contest, and that would have forced the team into figuring out a fifth option at the position.
“(Rivers) was prepared to (play),” said Shanahan. “It’s stuff we talked about through the whole year. We would have seen how that was for the Super Bowl. That was the plan for most of the year.”
As Branch notes, Ben Roethlisberger admitted that the 49ers had reached out to him about joining the team, but the quarterback wanted to stay retired. Rivers, however, sounds like he was willing to return to the field for a chance at a Super Bowl ring.
When we last saw the long-time Chargers QB, he was manning the position for the Colts, guiding the team to an 11-5 record while tossing 24 touchdowns vs. 11 interceptions. Since calling it a career following that 2020 campaign, Rivers has served as a high school football coach in Fairhope, Alabama.
More notes out of San Francisco…
- 49ers wideout and return man Ray-Ray McCloud broke his wrist at practice earlier this week, per Matt Barrows of The Athletic (on Twitter). The 26-year-old will undergo surgery and will likely miss the first two months of the season. McCloud joined the 49ers last year, and he finished the season averaging 23 yards per kick return and 10.8 yards per punt return. He also added 14 receptions and a touchdown on offense. As Barrows notes, Ronnie Bell, Willie Snead, and D’Shawn Jamison will be competing to take over the ST snaps with McCloud sidelined.
- Trent Williams is entering his 13th NFL season, including his fourth with the 49ers. While 2023 will mark the lineman’s age-35 campaign, Williams doesn’t have any thoughts of hanging up his cleats. “No I don’t. Because I still feel the same,” Williams told ESPN’s Dan Graziano. “Every year, I come back and I’m literally on the edge of my seat until that first practice, because I just don’t know. I can train as hard as I want and feel good, but I don’t know. I’ve seen a lot of guys fall off, hit that wall, and I just don’t know when it’s coming. So I kind of go in scared in a sense, and as soon as I get out and move around I feel like, ‘All right. This year I’m good. I haven’t started slowing down yet.’ At the end of the day, I’m 35. I understand I don’t have another 10 years. But what’s the point of thinking about when it’s going to stop? It doesn’t help. I think once it’s time, it’s time, and you will know. But for me, just because I’m 35, I don’t think I should be thinking about retiring.”
- Shanahan told reporters that the 49ers had interest in Sam Darnold during the early stages of their 2018 draft evaluation (via ESPN’s Nick Wagoner and Jeremy Fowler). The organization ended up trading for Garoppolo during the 2017 campaign, and Darnold went third-overall to the Jets in the following year’s draft. The 49ers were eager to bring the now-veteran QB on board this offseason, and the organization is convinced that Darnold was previously “harmed more by his circumstances than his ability.” Darnold was also eager to join an organization that could maximize his skills. “Being in a really good organization was a priority for me,” Darnold told reporters. “Being with really good coaches and really good personnel as well. Those were kind of the top things.”
- The 49ers announced a number of front office changes, including the promotion of Jeff Diamond to Senior Manager, Salary Cap and Hayden Frey and Crowley Hanlon to area scouts. The organization also officially announced the addition of Frank Gore to the front office, with the former running back earning the title of Football Personnel Advisor.