Ben Roethlisberger says 49ers gauged interest in his return to NFL

Tribune Content Agency

PITTSBURGH — The San Francisco 49ers’ desperate quarterback situation last season almost brought Ben Roethlisberger back to the NFL.

In speaking with 105.9 The X host Mark Madden on Tuesday, the Steelers’ future Hall of Fame signal caller said he was contacted by the NFC West power after injuries to Trey Lance and Garoppolo left an apparent void behind center.

“They called to gauge interest, OK?” Roethlisberger said when asked if he ever felt the urge to make a comeback. “I had conversations with my agent, with my wife, my family. Prayed a lot about it. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was a small part of me that was intrigued, like, ‘Oh, man I can still do it,’ like prove to people that I could still play.

“At the end of the day, I just can’t see myself in anything other than black and gold. Even though they had a great chance, I think, to win a Super Bowl, it would have been hard for me to try to go win a Super Bowl anywhere else but here. At the end of the day, it was the smallest little belief in my heart to go play again.”

Instead, the 49ers turned to third-stringer Brock Purdy, and things turned out pretty well. The rookie from Iowa State guided them to six wins to close the regular season before playoff triumphs against Seattle and Dallas.

Eventually it was Purdy himself who was injured early in the NFC championship against Philadelphia, costing the team dearly in an eventual 31-7 defeat. But to that point, he’d given his team a chance.

Roethlisberger has made headlines frequently since retiring in January 2022, weighing in on the Steelers and the NFL via his podcast and companion YouTube show.

In the interview with Madden, he touched on everything from home life to his view of where Steelers rookie Kenny Pickett can take his career in Year 2.

“That is big-time football,” Roethlisberger said of Pickett’s game-winning drive in Baltimore toward the end of last season. “That’s throwing stats out the window.

“To be able to just play the game, play the game and then — when it matters most — turn it on. Lead your team down the field. It wasn’t like he was handing off. He was making plays, finding guys. And I think right now, he can build on that. And I think his confidence is through the roof.”