St. Louis Rams Fans Should Be Thankful Peyton Manning Chose Broncos

Justin GibsonCorrespondent IIIMarch 19, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 08:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts gestures a she calls signals out at the line of scrimmage against the New York Jets during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Jets won 17-16. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Peyton Manning, the No. 1 free agent of this year's NFL offseason, has decided to sign with the Denver Broncos over a field of teams vying for his services, including the Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers.

Until early this afternoon, Manning's landing spot was virtually unknown, as the former Indianapolis Colts' quarterback did not tip his hand. Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway tweeted last week that the team's visit with Manning was "productive and went well."

Former 49ers' quarterback Steve Young stated he believed his former team was the favorite to land Manning.

At the end of the day, however, Manning will be taking snaps half the season at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, news over which Rams fans should rejoice.

The 49ers have made significant improvements to its wide receiver corps this offseason by bringing Randy Moss out of a short-lived retirement and signing Mario Manningham—moves the team made in attempt to lure Manning to San Francisco.

It wasn't enough, and with last year's quarterback Alex Smith reportedly in negotiations with the Dolphins, the 49ers 1-2-3 punch of Moss, Manningham and Michael Crabtree may be left without a threatening ball distributor.

Manning to the 49ers could have been disastrous to the Rams' long-term goal of consistently winning the NFC West.

Is Manning coming off a serious injury that sidelined him for 2011? At 35 years old, is Manning aging for the quarterback position?

Absolutely, but give me a dinged up, aging Peyton Manning any day over the options the 49ers will have to look to now.

Additionally, reports say that Moss has looked like his old self in early offseason workouts. The last thing Rams fans would want to see is a Moss resurgence under Manning like when he hooked up with fellow great quarterback Tom Brady in 2007, setting an NFL receiving record of 23 touchdowns.

So, where do the 49ers go from here if Smith leaves for South Beach?

NBC Sports' Michael David Smith believes the best case scenario for the team could be to sign free agent Josh Johnson and have him battle in training camp with last year's second-round pick Colin Kaepernick.

Other viable options via free agency could include Vince Young, Donovan McNabb or David Garrard.

Now, does this take the 49ers, a team known for its tenacious and nasty defense, out of the race for the NFC West presently and towards the future? Absolutely not.

And the task hasn't gotten easier for the Rams, as all 11 defensive starters for the 49ers are returning to the team. Not to mention, no matter who the quarterback is, the team will have a talented wide receiver group.

But the main takeaway for the Rams today is the task isn't going to reach the peak of difficulty it could have. For a team that has been saddled with bad news after bad news in recent seasons, take this as a positive sign.