The Peyton Manning saga has dominated the headlines since free agency opened up on Tuesday, March 14 and today, per Adam Schefter, we have learned that the San Francisco 49ers have made themselves serious players in the Manning sweepstakes.
From the beginning, teams like the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos have been thought to be the most serious contenders for Peyton, but as of late, it looks like Manning’s list may be down to three: The Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers.
All three teams can bring something unique to the table, and all three would be instant contenders with Manning in the line up but I think it’s clear who makes the most sense.
It’s the San Francisco 49ers, and here’s five reasons why.
Jim Harbaugh is a player’s coach and a great football mind. It also helps that he’s a former NFL quarterback, so that right there could be argument enough for it being a near perfect fit.
Harbaugh earned a reputation in his first year in the NFL as a head coach who just wants to win, and will do whatever he can to make that happen. Peyton Manning is the same way; he flat out plays to win.
Both Harbaugh and Manning are intense guys and would complement each other perfectly on the 49ers sidelines.
Peyton Manning replaced Jim Harbaugh as the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts beginning in the 1998 season, who knew that the two could potentially come full circle and see Harbaugh become Manning’s head coach 14 years later.
The San Francisco 49ers defense was widely regarded as the league’s best defense throughout the entire 2011 season.
These claims were supported by gaudy stats such as surrendering only 14.3 points per game and boasting the league’s best rush defense at only 77.3 yards per game.
The Colts always had a good defense when Peyton, but they were never elite. One thing the 49ers will bring to the offering stand is an elite defense that can help Manning out when he’s not on the field.
Led by Patrick Willis and Justin Smith, the 49ers defensive unit was given a lot of the credit for the 49ers deep run through the NFC playoffs.
Peyton Manning should seriously consider the San Francisco 49ers because the idea of him not having to do everything on his own is likely to appeal to Peyton’s eye.
The San Francisco 49ers have already made one of the more eye-opening signings of this free agency period by inking future Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss out of retirement.
Moss will line up across from Michael Crabtree and all-pro tight end Vernon Davis in what the 49ers hope becomes one of the NFC’s more potent aerial attacks.
If Manning were to sign with the San Francisco 49ers he’d have an array of weapons to spread the ball out, similar to what he had in Indianapolis, and if Randy Moss is in as good of shape as we believe he is then Peyton will enjoy the services a legitimate deep threat in the Bay Area.
All three teams vying for Peyton Manning have strong run games. Tennessee has Chris Johnson, Denver has a rejuvenated Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno, and San Francisco employs Frank Gore and a young, talented backup in Kendall Hunter.
With a quarterback of Peyton Manning’s talent, the 49ers would have one of the league’s most balanced offensive units.
San Francisco’s rushing attack ranked eighth in the NFL with an average of nearly 128 yards per game and despite Alex Smith’s maturation as a quarterback, a lot of those yards came against crowded defensive fronts.
Adding Peyton Manning would improve the run game by association and make the San Francisco 49ers offense the most dangerous in the NFL; something we haven’t heard in a very long time.
I mentioned this briefly, but the San Francisco 49ers are the team in best shape to make a trip to Super Bowl in 2012 without Peyton Manning, so how good would their chances be with the four-time NFL MVP?
Peyton Manning wants the best possible opportunity to win another Super Bowl and San Francisco gives him the best opportunity to do so.
They return key players from a team that was overtime away from making the Super Bowl a season ago and added a wide receiver to help improve their offense.
The fact that the 49ers were in the NFC Championship game a year ago should be a major factor in Peyton Manning’s decision on where he wants to go play football in 2012.