Just when we thought the only curveballs in sports were being thrown in spring training or by Norfolk State's basketball team, Peyton Manning, former NFL MVP, quarterback extraordinaire and all-around nice guy, threw one of his own.
Now we're left to evaluate where Manning might land. It appears to be down to San Francisco, Denver and Tennessee after Arizona and Miami were kindly informed to bark up another tree in their search for quarterback rescue.
The 49ers present a very different option from anyone else on the radar at this point. The 49ers went to and almost prevailed in the NFC Championship Game last season (against Manning's little brother Eli) with upstart quarterback Alex Smith, who is a free agent.
The Bay Area's football squad also boasts some great pass catchers (especially if Randy Moss is truly back to prime form and has his head on straight). They have a stable running game led by Frank Gore. They have an ambitious head coach in Jim Harbaugh, a former Colts quarterback himself.
They also boast one of the top defenses in the NFL, something that must be enticing to a quarterback used to having to outscore opponents and cover for a weaker defense.
While it remains to be seen how much steam the Manning-to-San Francisco train can pick up over the weekend, you can't discount the 49ers.
I have the feeling that, should Manning be looking for the best chance to return to and win a Super Bowl, he couldn't pick a more ready franchise. Plus the chance to restore glory to one of the league's premier franchises is hard to pass up.
I would say that of the three remaining teams, Denver and San Francisco hold the best chance to win Manning's services. The Titans are a close third, but I just don't think they are as stable and as ready to win the big game.
Will we find out over the weekend? Possibly. It seems Manning has done his visiting and is now just sitting down to figure out where he wants to go with his stellar career.
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