Ben Roethlisberger says 49ers reached out during 2022 season to 'gauge interest' in return to NFL

In an effort to thoroughly investigate all their options following injuries to quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo last season, the San Francisco 49ers apparently called up former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

During an interview with Mark Madden of 105.9 The X on Tuesday, Big Ben was asked if he was tempted to unretire at all last year, and the two-time Super Bowl-winning QB replied that the Niners reached out at one point.

"I was really comfortable with my decision," Roethlisberger said. "I would say this -- last year, there were some truths to the Niners thing. Just in the sense that they were, I think, reaching out for something. Just to maybe gauge my interest. And so, I had discussions. That's all. I don't want to sit here and say that I was going or anything like that. They called to gauge interest.

"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 could still do it,' like prove to people that I could still play. But 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've been hard for me to go try and win a Super Bowl anywhere else but [Pittsburgh]. So at the end of the day, it was the smallest little bleep in my heart to go play again."

San Francisco lost Lance to an injury in Week 2 and Jimmy G in Week 12. In the end, the Niners rallied around Brock Purdy, who shined in his late-season run in San Francisco before a UCL injury in the NFC Championship Game crashed the 49ers' chances at a Super Bowl.

Big Ben noted the thing he missed the least from his playing career, which came to a close after the 2021 season, is "my body hurting."

"I love waking up in the morning and not having issues with my knees and shoulders and elbows," he said.

Given that sentiment, it's probably best for both sides that nothing came of the Niners reaching out to gauge Roethlisberger's thoughts on coming out of retirement.

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