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Ben Roethlisberger playing for the 49ers in 2022 would have been the greatest story ever told

It’s not often that a dream story comes along, but Ben Roethlisberger coming out of retirement to help the 49ers win a Super Bowl in 2022 would have been one of them.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, it’s the Steelers' offseason, and you just don’t feel like writing more things about the NFL Draft. Then, suddenly, like a sign from the football gods above, a nugget falls into your lap and, I don’t know, gives you life.

That’s how I felt when former Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger appeared on Mark Madden’s radio show on 105.9 The X on Tuesday for a rear interview (rare, in that it wasn’t on Roethlisberger’s own weekly podcast, where he actually conducts plenty of interviews in his own right).

During the course of the interview, Roethlisberger, who announced his retirement following the 2021 campaign, said that the 49ers had reached out to him at some point during the 2022 regular season.

San Francisco, a talented team that was a sure-fire Super Bowl contender heading into last season, was severely compromised at the quarterback spot when both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were lost for the year with injuries.

With those circumstances staring them in the face, it made perfect sense that the 49ers would gauge Roethlisberger’s interest in a possible return. And being a competitor and someone who played the quarterback spot as well as few ever had over the course of his 18-year career in Pittsburgh, it also made perfect sense that Roethlisberger was intrigued:

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was a small part of me that was intrigued,” Roethlisberger told Madden. “I could still do it and 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.”

There you have it.

The spicy nugget—Roethlisberger was contacted by another team for a possible return in 2022—followed by the feel-good-to-yinzers answer: “I just can’t see myself in anything other than the black and gold.”

Just imagine if Roethlisberger actually gave the wrong answer when he was contacted by the 49ers.

Little did Steelers fans know there was this potent bombshell just sitting right there, ready to explode and change the 2022 outlook forever.

That’s right, while everyone was focused on Kenny Pickett’s talent (or lack thereof), Matt Canada’s employment, Mike Tomlin’s employment, T.J. Watt’s pectoral muscle, the streak of non-losing seasons, and the 2023 NFL Draft, utter chaos could have erupted out of nowhere, thanks to Roethlisberger, an actual free-agent following the 2021 season, deciding to give it one more go and don the maroon and gold in San Francisco.

It would have made all those old pictures of Franco Harris in a Seahawks uniform look like that one picture of Mark Malone in a Chargers uniform (if such a picture even exists, of course).

It would have been the most outrage-inducing story in the history of Pittsburgh sports.

Roethlisberger told Madden that he prayed on it after the 49ers called. I believe I would have, too, had I known about this potential bombshell development.

I would have prayed hard for Roethlisberger to come out of retirement and try to win just one more....for the 49ers.

It would have been the 49ers’ sixth Lombardi trophy, tying both Pittsburgh and New England for the most, all-time.

But who cares about whether or not Roethlisberger would have led San Francisco to a title? Just the fact that he even tried may have been enough for me.

The writing material would have been endless. The reactions could have been priceless. The jersey burning may have been constant.

You might say otherwise, but I know my Steelers fans. We hate players doing TikTok during the summer. We were critical of Stephon Tuitt for sitting out a year and then retiring. We get outraged over players skipping OTAs. Hell, we get into arguments over mock drafts made by people who don’t even have a direct relationship with the Steelers.

Trust me, the rage would have been real. The tears would have been plentiful.

Would Steelers fans have actually jumped to the side of Mason Rudolph and finally accepted him as part of the Nation?

Would Brock Purdy, Mr. Irrelevant and one of the best stories from 2022, have even played had Roethlisberger signed with the 49ers? Would Roethlisberger have gone all Passive-Aggressive Ben and openly wished that the 49ers had used a seventh-round pick to help other areas of the team?

What prominent former Steelers teammates may have come out of the woodwork to be highly critical of Roethlisberger and his decision to play with another team?

And how awesome would that inevitable “Forgiveness Reunion” have been when No. 7 was officially welcomed back into the good graces of Steelers fans at halftime of some game in 2043?

The possibilities could have been endless.

Oh well.

Ben Roethlisberger will always be a Pittsburgh Steeler to me, but I wish he was a San Francisco 49er for just one season.