Former 49ers coach Mike Singletary vetoed trade for Steelers legend Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is, by most accounts, on the verge of riding off into the sunset of his playing days a club legend who earned two Super Bowl rings during his Hall-of-Fame run with that organization. Roethlisberger's career could've gone differently in a variety of ways. He first faced sexual assault allegations in 2009 that, per ESPN, ultimately earned him a suspension and reportedly had the Steelers listening to offers for the signal-caller throughout that controversy.

According to Dan Pompei of The Athletic, the San Francisco 49ers were more than just interested in Roethlisberger at the time. Per the story, 49ers owner John York, CEO Jed York and director of player personnel Trent Baalke "had a trade in place with the Steelers" for Big Ben, but then-head coach Mike Singletary vetoed the deal, in part, because he wanted to stick with Alex Smith.

"I had been telling the team I wanted a team of character," Singletary explained for the piece. "I felt I had to be true to that. But if I could do it again, I’d do it differently."

The 49ers fired Singletary after Week 16 of the 2010 campaign.

Of course, nobody can say, with any certainty, what would've happened had the Steelers jettisoned Roethlisberger at that stage of his life. Maybe he would've flamed out of the NFL away from Pittsburgh, or perhaps he would've flourished on the West Coast as a member of the Niners.

Nevertheless, it's an interesting "what if" to ponder as San Francisco prepares to face the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday's NFC Championship Game.

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