Peyton Manning to San Francisco 49ers: 3 Potential Biggest Winners and Losers
Filed to ESPN: Third team in Manning race that has emerged is49ers - Manning worked out for Harbaugh &took physical this week #NFL32— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) March 16, 2012
With that, the Bay Area would certainly be in an interesting situation on offense and from a historical perspective.
So, let's take a look at the potential biggest winners and losers if Manning ends up in San Francisco.
Winner: Randy Moss
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Now it appears as though Moss may potentially have the opportunity to go deep for Peyton Manning. It would certainly be a special connection, despite both their ages.
And just like Manning, Moss was selected in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft.
Combined throughout each of their illustrious careers, Manning and Moss have accumulated 18 Pro Bowls, 13 All-Pro teams and three Super Bowl appearances.
They are highly regarded as two of the best to ever play their respective positions, just like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.
If Manning ends up in San Francisco and Moss has a dominant season, will it be possible to describe how fortunate the Bay Area has been with quarterback-to-receiver combos?
Loser: Alex Smith
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Definitely the hardest hit to Manning in San Francisco is Alex Smith.
After playing for a different offensive coordinator through his first seven seasons and Jim Harbaugh becoming his third head coach, Smith finally had a solid season he can hang his hat on.
Now, it wasn't supremely dominant like any Manning season. However, 17 touchdowns to just five picks, over 3,100 passing yards, a 61.3 completion percentage and a 90.7 rating is damn impressive, considering the 49ers' depleted receiving corps.
Michael Crabtree started off slow, Josh Morgan was out by early October, Braylon Edwards never hit a rhythm and Ted Ginn Jr. just isn't a prototypical NFL receiver.
Only tight end Vernon Davis was consistently reliable. And what about Smith's postseason numbers?
Five touchdowns to zero picks, almost 500 yards and a 101.0 rating. Lest we forget about Smith's mobility in gaining 179 rushing yards and scoring two touchdowns in the regular season.
And then there's his verbatim designed Tecmo Super Bowl touchdown run against the Saints. Smith has done a lot for San Francisco with limited resources in the passing game. After 2011, 2012's increased expectations with Randy Moss appear to be decreasing.
Winner: 49ers QB-WR Connection History
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From 1985-1992, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were paired up in San Francisco and created the considered-best quarterback-to-receiver connection of all time.
Then, after Montana, Steve Young took over as the full-time starter in 1992 (but appeared in 46 games between 1987 and 1991) and kept rolling with Rice through 1999. Lest we forget about other great targets such as John Taylor and Brent Jones as well.
All-together, these two connections brought five Super Bowls to San Francisco, which was tied for the most of any franchise (Dallas Cowboys) when Young retired after 1999. The 49ers were dubbed the "Team of the 80s" and is arguably the greatest dynasty in pro football history.
Now, there's a potential opportunity to add one more QB-WR connection in Peyton Manning and Randy Moss to this legendary list.
If this connections ends up happening and performing well, can you imagine the historical implications of not only Manning's and Moss's legacies, but San Francisco's?
After playing 17 seasons with the 49ers from 1957-1973 and despite having his No.12 retired, you have to wonder how John Brodie feels.
Loser: Broncos and Titans
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After all the time spent in trying to gain the upper hand on the other, all would be for naught if Manning ends up in San Francisco. Then, can you imagine the awkwardness Denver and Tennessee would feel with their current quarterback incumbents?
That alone would just be the tip of the iceberg.
In addition, each would be missing out on fielding the best quarterback within its respective divisions and an opportunity to really upgrade the passing offense.
There wouldn't be nearly as much of a need to look for the leftover receivers in free agency or to draft a top receiver prospect. A quarterback like Manning, despite his health concerns and if protected enough, will make any group of receivers better.
This in turn, takes pressure off the ground game and provides the defense with more time to rest up.
And from a long-term viewpoint, Manning will have influence on a younger quarterback for future development to just reload, instead of rebuild after he retires (whenever that day comes).
Winner: NFC Quarterback Brand
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Peyton Manning's signature to San Francisco would vehemently boost the NFC's level of quarterbacks over the AFC.
The NFC, however, would have the Manning brothers in addition to other big name quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees, Michael Vick, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Jay Cutler.
Yes, other AFC quarterbacks like Tim Tebow, Matt Hasselbeck, Joe Flacco and Carson Palmer can be considered big names as well, but by comparison the NFC from an all-encompassed perspective would be much more appealing.
Manning in a 49ers uniform gives the NFC five of the last six Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks and excluding them, other rising stars such as Stafford and Newton are leading the next wave of quarterbacks developing into franchise players.
Loser: Rest of the NFC West
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The NFC West no doubt, has some impressive defenses.
The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks both finished off the 2011 season strong and the St. Louis Rams have potential after signing Cortland Finnegan, according to Adam Schefter; not to mention a defensive minded head coach in Jeff Fisher and all their future draft picks courtesy of the Washington Redskins, according to the Washington Post.
All that said, the San Francisco 49ers still field arguably the NFL's best and most complete defense.
Therefore, you can expect Patrick Willis and Justin Smith and Co. to suffocate other NFC West offenses in 2012. Peyton Manning would obviously be the best quarterback by infinite light-years in the division and San Francisco would easily repeat as NFC West champs.
Running back Frank Gore would bowl over defenses once again, but even more so as Randy Moss prevents a defensive coordinator from stacking the box.
Perhaps the scariest part?
The 49ers are the best fit for Peyton Manning to make another Super Bowl run; or multiple.
John Rozum on Twitter.