I really can't imagine a more useless topic to discuss than the one of Peyton Manning going to the San Francisco 49ers. Every year there is a free agent some Niners fans get hyped up about, but it's simply a waste of time because they realize long afterward how absurd the odds were. It's not how the franchise does business.
I guess some assume it's because how close they are, that things might change. The defense is arguably the best in the league and most analysts believe the 49ers are one great passer away from a dynasty. But for so many reasons, Manning is not the answer and not the route likely taken, so any banter regarding the issue is simply a waste of breath.
First of all, a bidding war is completely out of the question, and in today's league, we may be in line for one of the largest in NFL history. Who knows what kind of figures teams like Washington, Tampa Bay, Arizona or Miami are willing to throw at this guy to fix a long-broken position in their franchise. And these are teams that reportedly have a fair amount of cap space to boot.
So, even if Manning did come in to meet with team officials, and I'm not saying that's going to happen, the offer would be about the same, if not less than anything they were offering a healthy Alex Smith. And you don't do the number of commercials Manning has done if you don't have some sort of ego.
And let's drop the act like Alex Smith caddying for Jim Harbaugh wasn't a picturesque metaphor of their bromance. Trent Baalke is committed to Smith, Harbaugh is committed to Smith and the 49ers' most dynamic offensive weapon is Smith's biggest supporter: I'm talking about Vernon Davis. The whole team is behind him, and to break that up could mean an internal collapse of everything they stand for.
This 49ers are also a team. For a long time, it was basically a one-man show in Indianapolis, where I believe commentator Mark Schlereth coined the term, "The Indianapolis Peyton Mannings." Harbaugh runs a system where everyone contributes equally, and he maintains a franchise that builds through the draft and doesn't overpay free agents whose best years are behind them.
Smith brought the 49ers to the NFC Championship in one season under Harbaugh, with less than half an offseason to prepare. A logical man would say they could do better next year together.
The 49ers also took a chance on a free agent last year who was their biggest name acquired; who reportedly had a lesser injury or caution-able medical history. Braylon Edwards didn't quite work out for the 49ers. He was shown the door and the 49ers had a gaping hole at wide receiver for most of the season because of it. I can't see them making the same mistake twice.
What is a bigger red flag than four major neck surgeries in the span of a year, and a rushed recovery? If the 49ers are going to spend money on free agents, it isn't going to be a lot and it's going to be on a low risk, high reward player—not a high risk, low reward player.
It seems foolish to indulge in the possibility of Manning coming to San Francisco, even though the league has seen weirder things, like when Joe Montana departed for Kansas City. Montana never won the big game after that, and he was four-for-four in Super Bowls, not one-for-one and fragile.
The 49ers cannot and will not step outside how they do business for an opportunity like this; I don't care what kind of dividends some people think it could potentially pay.
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