San Francisco 49ers Should Target Peyton Manning, Trade Alex Smith

Andre Khatchaturian@AndreKhatchCorrespondent IIIJanuary 23, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts signs autographs before the kickoff against the Jacksonville Jaguars January 1 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Stock investors will always tell you the following mantra:

Buy low, sell high. 

Alex Smith's stock shot up tremendously this season. The San Francisco 49ers should use that to their advantage and trade him for a few high-round draft picks. Then they should offer the world for Peyton Manning and go for the title next year.

What Alex Smith did this season was remarkable. He threw 17 touchdowns and only five interceptions. His performance in the NFC Divisional playoff game led the San Francisco 49ers into the NFC Championship game.

He made great strides and looked more like the No. 1 overall pick the 49ers thought they would see when they first drafted him. 

His stock shot up tremendously. They were on the cusp of reaching the Super Bowl and an optimistic 49er fan will tell you that maybe next year they'll actually make it.

However, how much can Alex Smith really improve? He's already going to be 28 next year. Quarterbacks don't just become elite all of a sudden, especially when they've been in the league for an extended period of time. Despite his great season, he still had a 61.3 completion percentage and his quarterback rating was just at 90.7, which is good, but not great.

Smith isn't going to become an Aaron Rodgers or a Drew Brees anytime soon. There's a reason why Jim Harbaugh only had him throw 26 times in a game that almost lasted five quarters long.

And despite Smith improving this season, the San Francisco 49ers, probably the most complete team from the final four in the Conference Championships, still did not make the Super Bowl.

Blame Kyle Williams all you want, but a lot of it was also Smith's fault. The 49ers were essentially Tebowing with Smith. He only had 12 completions and a completion percentage less than 50 percent. At one point he was 4-for-11 with a touchdown. These are Tebow-like numbers.

And this was at home.

That being said, Smith's stock has greatly improved and by trading for Peyton Manning, the 49ers will set themselves up as Super Bowl front runners for the next several years.

With a running back like Frank Gore, a coach like Jim Harbaugh, a stingy defense full of studs and a quarterback like Peyton Manning, who's going to compete with this team?

They'll be playing in a weak division with two games against St. Louis, Seattle and Arizona every year. With Manning under center, they shouldn't have a problem blowing out all of those teams and getting a bye week.

Once in the playoffs, they'll probably be able to get two home games with Manning.

Without him they lost by three points to the New York Giants. With him, there is no reason why 49ers won't make the Super Bowl. He has the experience and talent to lead this team to places it hasn't seen since Steve Young was quarterback. 

No more red zone problems. No more 1-for-13 on 3rd downs in the biggest game of the year.

It's almost a fact now that teams need a quarterback to win the Super Bowl.

Look at the quarterbacks playing in the last four Super Bowls.

Last year we had Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. The year before that we had Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. Prior to that it was Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger, again, playing in the big game. And finally in 2008 it was Tom Brady and Eli Manning, the same matchup of this year.

All these quarterbacks mentioned are great. Not good, but great. It doesn't matter how unbelievable the 49ers defense is, they're going to need a quarterback that's at the same level as those guys mentioned to win.

It's a passer's league. This year Dan Marino's record for passing yards got smashed by two players and a third player, Matthew Stafford, broke 5,000 yards. Quarterbacks are a necessity.

And although Peyton Manning is pushing it in terms of age, that doesn't mean he still can't be a top notch player for the Niners. Brett Favre played well past 40 and he took the Minnesota Vikings to an NFC Championship. 

Plus, Manning is going to be surrounded by some great players like Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore. He also has a knack of elevating the game of no-namers like Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon. Think that can't happen again in the Bay?

So the 49ers have a tough decision to make. There are obviously going to be plenty of suitors for Peyton. And the question remains if the Indianapolis Colts will even trade him. 

But if the Colts do in fact trade him, the 49ers should definitely consider jump into the mix. Opportunities like this don't come around every year. And with the Arizona Cardinals reportedly interested in Manning, the Niners don't want one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in their own division.