FOXBORO, Mass. — Brian Hoyer was shopping for a Halloween costume for his young son when he got the call.
It was Kyle Shanahan, informing him the San Francisco 49ers had completed a trade with the New England Patriots for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Hoyer, who began this season as the 49ers starting QB, would officially be released a few hours later.
Almost immediately, he knew what his next move would be.
The Patriots needed someone to back up Tom Brady after dealing away Garoppolo (and, earlier this year, Jacoby Brissett), and Hoyer, who began his career in New England, had been unable to hold the starting job for a miserable Niners team that has yet to win a game this season.
Clearly, a reunion was in the best interest of both parties. So, one day after Garoppolo was introduced as San Francisco’s quarterback of the future, Hoyer signed a three-year contract to return to New England.
“Obviously, there’s always options that you look through,” Hoyer said Monday in his first meeting with reporters. “But to me, an opportunity to come back and be with this organization, I didn’t really want to pass it up. And also, when you’ve moved around a lot, to move back to somewhere where you’ve lived before, especially for my wife and kids, there was a familiarity there, and I think that had a part to do with it, too.”
Hoyer signed with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie in 2009 and served as Brady’s primary backup until he was released during final cuts in 2012. He used the words “whirlwind,” “flashback” and “dream” to describe the transition back to his old home.
“To be back in (the locker room), it’s kind of like walking into a time machine,” the 32-year-old said, later adding estimating that he had taken five cross-country flights in the previous nine days. “Not much has changed. Obviously, every year, there’s change in the NFL, some new faces. But it’s kind of cool to see some of the guys that I came in with are now the veteran leaders of this team. We’re the old guys.”
Between his two Patriots stints, Hoyer spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Chicago Bears and 49ers.
In Houston, he played under former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who ran an offense similar to the one Josh McDaniels currently employs in New England. He started nine games there in 2015, throwing 19 touchdown passes with seven interceptions.
“I’ve played a lot of football since I left here,” Hoyer said. “I’ve had to move around. I’ve been the starting quarterback for three different teams. I mean, I was a starting quarterback four weeks ago.”
Now, unless Brady goes down with an injury, Hoyer won’t get that opportunity. He’s accepted that. In fact, he seems to be embracing it.
“I think for me, that was kind of the excitement of coming back home, and to be able to play behind Tom and be in this organization,” he said. “And I was OK with. I think for me, having played a lot, you’re always ready to play, but it wasn’t going to work out for me to be a starter there in San Francisco the rest of this year, anyways, and probably not for next year.
“So I think for me, when I had an opportunity to come here and be the backup to Tom and in this organization, it was kind of a no-brainer.”
Hoyer will back up Brady this Sunday night when the Patriots visit the Denver Broncos.
Thumbnail photo via Zack Cox/NESN.com
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