Had it come to it, Kyle Shanahan was ready to bring Philip Rivers out of retirement to lead the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl last season.
The 49ers, who dealt with various quarterback injuries last season, ended up falling in the NFC championship game to the Philadelphia Eagles. Apparently, Shanahan had been in contact with Rivers throughout the entire season about coming out of retirement.
“He was prepared to [come out of retirement],” Shanahan said Thursday. “Now that’s stuff we talked about throughout the whole year. We would’ve had to seen how that was for the Super Bowl, but that was the plan most of the year.”
Rivers retired after the 2020 season, ending his 17-year career in the league. Rivers threw for more than 63,000 yards and 421 touchdowns in his career. The longtime Los Angeles Chargers quarterback has since relocated to Alabama, where he now works as a high school football coach. He and his wife announced last month that they are expecting their 10th child in October.
Though he’s now 41, Rivers has been linked to several open jobs in the league since he retired. He was reportedly open to stepping in for the Saints in 2021 after Jameis Winston tore his ACL, and he was reportedly in contact with both the 49ers and Miami Dolphins last season.
Shanahan and the 49ers had terrible luck at quarterback last season. Trey Lance broke his ankle in Week 2 of the season, and was done for the year. That left the team reverting back to Jimmy Garoppolo, though he went down in Week 13 with a foot injury.
So, the 49ers had to turn to Brock Purdy — the former Iowa State quarterback who was the last man selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. Remarkably, Purdy went a perfect 5-0 in the regular season and got the 49ers all the way to the NFC title game. He was sacked on their first drive against the Eagles in that game, however, and sustained an elbow injury. Though he came back into the game in the second half, the Eagles rolled to the win.
The 49ers situation was incredibly unique, but it’s easy to see why Shanahan was concerned. Had they won that game and made it to the Super Bowl, Josh Johnson was the team’s only option at quarterback.
While Rivers looks like he’ll make the Hall of Fame eventually, it’s unclear how he would have fared stepping into an unfamiliar situation — especially if it would’ve been in the Super Bowl. But hey, it’s not the worst idea.