Peyton Manning: Breaking Down Dynamic of Manning and 49ers Pass Catchers
On Friday, the headline news in the sports world was that the San Francisco 49ers had emerged as the rumored sleeper team in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. The 49ers, who were reportedly committed to Alex Smith, have surfaced as a very possible destination for the the four-time MVP.
At this point, the possible suitors are the Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers. It's been said that if it's about the money, Manning will select Denver; if it's about location, Manning will select Tennessee and if it's about winning, Manning will select San Francisco.
The reason for this is that the 49ers have just about every piece in place; shy of one more draft for Trent Baalke, they are loaded at every position. The defense is the best in the league, the offensive line will be stronger than last year after the right guard position is addressed, and there are offensive weapons available for Manning.
In this piece, I'd like to break down the dynamic that could develop between Manning and each one of his receivers he'd have if he chooses to play in the Bay.
Vernon Davis, TE
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This could become Peyton Manning's favorite target right off the bat. In Indianapolis, Manning liked his tight ends in Dallas Clark, and even Jacob Tamme at the end there. Outside of the New England Patriots, the 49ers have arguably the best tight end tandem in the league, led by Pro Bowler Vernon Davis.
Davis is a pure physical freak and has developed into a high-character playmaker for the 49ers. He's a team leader and works extremely hard, on and off the field. The physicality and measurables from Davis blows Clark out of the water.
Davis has great speed, excellent ability to catch in traffic and can run all the routes. Davis' versatility and size is uncanny, and it this point in his career, we can see why he was a top ten overall draft pick.
The tight end can do so many things, and with Manning at the helm, their connection could be record-breaking. Davis could reclaim his touchdown record for tight ends after it was broken last year by Rob Gronkowski, and he could evolve as a match-up problem considering who would be throwing to him.
Randy Moss, WR
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Yes, folks. Peyton Manning to Randy Moss.
I guess a fair place to start would be to point out that they are both future Hall of Famers with the same goal in mind: winning championships. These guys have both been game-changers on their own for the better part of a decade.
We also witnessed the aerial mayhem that ensued in the northeast when Randy Moss played with 3-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, Tom Brady. Moss had an unbelievable 23 receiving touchdowns when the Patriots made their Super Bowl run.
Despite the great talent he's had around him, Manning has never been paired with a Hall of Fame receiver. And with Manning behind center, it's even more reason for Moss to be motivated and playing like a kid again.
And with the opportunities the defense would give these two, Moss could be averaging 2.5 touchdowns a game. It's almost too good to be true. But the fact remains, it is a possibility. And getting Manning and Moss linked up for a last grind to collect some Super Bowl rings could be epic NFL history.
Michael Crabtree, WR
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This could be a career changing step for Michael Crabtree, who still continues to under-perform in the eyes of many. I think what really shines here for Crabtree is Manning's ability to throw guys open. Crabtree has displayed a great ability to adjust his body, and make tough catches, but he's struggled with separation.
With Moss as the No. 1, taking that pressure of Crabtree, the youngster could get going with the underneath routes and become a strong possession receiver. Manning and Moss would also have a lot of experience and wisdom to pass on to Crabtree.
With a quarterback of Manning's caliber, it would be no-nonsense on and off the field. Crabtree would respond to this kind of direction and proven track record. It's not a slight to Alex Smith, but everyone can agree Manning is on a different level.
It could possibly mean the final leap in Crabtree's game where he becomes that Anquan Boldin-like pass catcher to Moss' Larry Fitzgerald.
Kyle Williams, WR
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Now, many people are still upset with Kyle Williams and I was disgruntled, but looking at 2012, I like having him on the 49ers. I like Kyle Williams and I think he's capable of being a dynamite slot receiver and even one day having the same success as Victor Cruz had for the Giants.
He's got great speed, acceleration and the heart of a football player. I believe Williams will rebound in 2012 and he will win the fans back. If Williams had Peyton Manning throwing to him, I think these two could draw up quite the chemistry.
Manning has made names out of guys who had less athletic ability than Williams but a similar forte. Players like Brandon Stokeley, Pierre Garcon, Anthony Gonzalez and so on. These guys have looked great with Manning throwing them open and letting them use their speed and field vision to get yards after catch.
Williams could do great things with Manning and like Crabtree, learn a great deal from the veteran.
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These are four guys that will be seeing significant time in 2012, and we haven't mentioned Delanie Walker, the backs to check down to and throw screens, and the inevitable rookie San Francisco will bring in. The dominance of 49ers defense might be equaled by it's offense if the 49ers were able to land Manning.
They have a group of receivers who all excel at something unique, and Manning could bring the best out of each one of them. It wouldn't take much more than Manning to make the 49ers Super Bowl favorites for the next 3-5 years.
And with the ability of the 49ers front office in the draft, they would bring in great young talent to surround him with -- players that could learn from someone as elite as him. If Manning does choose San Francisco, I'd then suggest and assume that they would secure the offensive line in the first round.
It'd be a terrific move if the 49ers could move up and select David DeCastro, or if someone of equal caliber and potential fell to them at No. 30. This team would be downright strong and a powerhouse team like the league has not seen in quite some time.
Only time will tell as we wait for the Manning saga to unfold, but this is an interesting scenario if Manning does decide to take his talents to the Bay.
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