Manning will not have the comfort of running his former Colts offense.
The 49ers retained their complete starting defensive roster, the majority of its offense (plus additional weapons), a dominant special teams and the entire coaching staff.
Harbaugh, Greg Roman, Vic Fangio, Brad Seely and Co. will continue to develop the players they coached during the previous season. They’ll enjoy the benefit of a full offseason of mini-camps, OTAs and training camp to diversify playbooks for all facets of the game.
Heck, they won’t endure the pains of creating and executing a game plan on the fly.
Head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy return for the Broncos. Yet, they’ll have to install an entirely new offense with Peyton Manning.
Before the entire Bronco fan base unleash their wrath upon me based on that last assertion, I fully realize that they performed this task with an offense catered to Tim Tebow’s skill set after Kyle Orton’s 1-4 start.
I’m also cognizant of Manning’s masterful ability of being the de facto offensive coordinator while on the field and his assistance in developing the new system.
However, the fact remains that the Broncos will be starting from square one, while the Niners will improve upon an existing successful system. Harbaugh, Roman and Fangio’s schematics will become more dynamic as the players have another year at their disposal to master the game plans.
It would be illogical to assert that the 49ers will regress as a team after another year of practice and execution with the same regime. The same goes for league’s preeminent special teams unit under Seely.
Another significant change for the Broncos is the loss of defensive coordinator Dennis Allen who resurrected their defense from a putrid 32nd overall to No. 20 in the NFL.
New coordinator Jack Del Rio possesses a keen defensive intellect and is an experienced coach. Yet, he will also contend with the challenge of implementing a new defense.
Veteran coaches can plan, devise and administer all they want, but players still have to learn and execute.
The 49ers have a considerable advantage in this regard. Not even the ingenious Peyton Manning himself can overcome these burdens.
It is merely another reason why the Red and Gold advance to Super Bowl in 2012, its sixth appearance in franchise history, and not the Manning-led Broncos.
Only time will reveal whether he regrets his decision at the conclusion of his five-year contract.