The 49ers pried quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots last year. Earlier this offseason, the 49ers apparently were in a good position to get tight end Rob Gronkowski, too.
Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback said on the nationally syndicated Colin Cowherd show this week that Patriots coach Bill Belichick considered trading his four-time All-Pro tight end to the 49ers — among just a few teams — when it appeared uncertain if Gronkowski wanted to continue playing for the Patriots after the Super Bowl loss to the Eagles. There was speculation Gronkowski might retire, or wanted to renegotiate his contract.
“I don’t think they were shopping Gronk to the entire league,” Breer told Cowherd. “But there were some teams they trust that I know they talked to. Detroit, Tennessee, Houston, San Francisco … you guys can make the connections there.”
Belichick, noted Jon Becker of the Bay Area News Group, has close ties to the coaches of the Lions, Titans and Texans and has always been a big fan of former NFL coach Mike Shanahan, father of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, and GM John Lynch.
Breer noted that Belichick was exploring options to get something for his star tight end when it appeared Gronkowski wanted a change of scenery.
“This kind of came to a point where it was like he sort of disengaged from the program and was asking for a raise,” Breer said.
But eventually, Belichick and Gronkowski had a meeting, and the tight end reaffirmed his commitment to the Patriots. So, Gronkowski will have no reunion with Garoppolo in the Bay Area this season.
The 49ers obviously would have been interested in Gronkowski were he available. At 29, he’s still in his prime and has a connection with Garoppolo. The combination could have been highly effective. Last season, in 14 games, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.
But, as the 49ers approach the start of training camp in mid-July, the 49ers have a corps of tight ends they believe will be very good, led by George Kittle, Garrett Celek and Cole Hikutini.