Friday, March 16, 2012
ManningWatch: Five thoughts on 49ers
By Mike Sando
Five things to consider as the San Francisco 49ers emerge as a team with interest in free-agent quarterback Peyton Manning:
- Tom Condon's involvement. The agent represents Manning and unsigned 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. Manning is obviously Condon's top priority at the moment. He was in a unique position to facilitate the 49ers' involvement in Manning, thanks to his influence over Smith's contract status and the places Manning might consider most seriously. Condon could be manipulating the process in an attempt to gain maximum leverage, first for Manning, and secondarily for Smith.
- Divisional dynamics. The 49ers have a direct interest in keeping Manning away from the NFC West. Their emergence as a possible destination delays the process. That is bad for the Cardinals, who must decide by 4 p.m. ET Friday whether to keep incumbent quarterback Kevin Kolb with a $7 million bonus. Whether or not the 49ers are serious candidates for Manning, their involvement later in the process works against the one NFC West team to defeat the 49ers last season, Arizona.
- The 49ers like Alex Smith. Coach Jim Harbaugh has repeatedly expressed his affinity for Smith. Taking a look at another veteran quarterback would threaten the relationship between the two, but Manning is a special case. Looking into a four-time MVP quarterback and future Hall of Famer doesn't qualify as a personal affront to a quarterback with one winning season on his resume. The assumption here is that Harbaugh has communicated the team's intentions to Smith, either directly or through Condon, and that the 49ers feel comfortable in their ability to move forward with Smith if Manning does not come to San Francisco.
- The fit with Harbaugh. The assumption with Manning has been that he would want considerable control over the offense. How much control would Harbaugh, himself a former quarterback with strong belief in his system, adjust for Manning? I tend to think Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman would find a way to make it work. They could sell him on a strong emphasis on the ground game, which could help keep Manning healthy. Dallas Clark was a star in Indianapolis when Manning was there. Imagine what Vernon Davis might be able to do with Manning.
- What about Seattle? The Seahawks expressed interest in Manning, but failed to secure a meeting with him. If Manning did land in San Francisco, Smith would be a natural candidate to play for the Seahawks. We're a long ways off from that happening at this point, but it's something to consider if the 49ers are shown to be serious about chasing after Manning. The Seahawks had interest in Smith previously.
Your thoughts? I'm guessing we'll have about a thousand comments in five minutes here. Fire away!