Will the 49ers be Brady’s Bunch in 2011?

My Twitter friend ED49ERS asked me an interesting question yesterday: Do I see Tom Brady coming to the Niners next season if the Patriots don’t extend his contract?

First reaction: Get outta here. We can’t assume that every Hall of Fame-bound player is headed to San Francisco. What, no trade for Adrian Peterson?

Second reaction: Hmmm. This scenario doesn’t seem out of the question. Brady is in the final year of his current contract, and as Yahoo! Sports’ Michael Silver wrote yesterday: “Three months before the start of the 2010 campaign, and less than two months before training camp, there have been no substantial talks between his agents (Don Yee and Steve Dubin) and the Pats’ front office, and there’s a growing sense of disconnect between the two camps.”

The inference is that Brady is miffed at the absence of contract negotiations, and that the Patriots would like the QB to spend more time in Massachusetts over the offseason.

Patriots boss Bill Belichick is a cold-blooded businessman in the mold of Bill Walsh. He is brilliant when it comes to finding young talent to fit his scheme, but he has no qualms about jettisoning that talent before it becomes obsolete (see: Richard Seymour). Brady has distinguished himself as one of the best ever to play his position. He’s also approaching 33 years old, and is less than two years removed from a devastating knee injury.

If the relationship in New England were to deteriorate, why wouldn’t the 49ers be a candidate for Brady’s services? This is the team he grew up rooting for in San Mateo. And a lot of people believe the 49ers, with an improving defense and some playmakers on offense, are a great quarterback away from making a serious Super Bowl run. Depending on how many of their current players they choose to take care of with contract extensions over the next few months, the Niners could be in position to make a play for Brady.

And don’t forget the dreaded 30-percent rule. Brady’s deal was heavily front-loaded, and his base salary for 2010 is an affordable $3.4 million. That makes it impossible for the Patriots to offer him a huge base for 2011; they would have to take care of him with guaranteed money.

Third reaction: OK, let’s take a deep breath here. The Patriots are not going to let Brady escape easily. Yes, Belichick operates out of self-preservation, not loyalty. But is he really ready to turn his offense over to Brian Hoyer or Mike Teel, especially when Brady is coming off one of his best statistical seasons? It doesn’t seem likely.

Brady has always enjoyed a close relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft. You’d have to expect that relationship to continue past 2010. If it doesn’t? Things will get very interesting on the Niners watch.

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