San Francisco 49ers Make Smart Choice by Denying Pursuit of Peyton Manning

Ryan Phillips@@RumorsandRantsContributor IIIMay 31, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers looks on against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 20-3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has claimed that the team didn't actually pursue Peyton Manning this offseason and that the plan was always to bring back Alex Smith under center.

Backing Smith and denying the pursuit of Manning is the right move for the organization to make.

It's hard for me to believe that the 49ers didn't actually chase Manning this offseason, since it was widely reported that they really wanted the four-time MVP. However, since San Francisco didn't land him, it's the right move for the team to insist that Smith was their guy all along.

Let's face it, while Smith had a much better season in 2011, he isn't a top-tier quarterback in the NFL. Manning is an 11-time Pro Bowler who, if healthy, is one of the best players the league has to offer. 

Last season, the 49ers ranked 29th in passing offense and averaged 183.1 yards per game. Smith completed 61.3 percent of his passes in 2011 for 3,144 yards, with 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions. His quarterback rating of 90.7 was a career high.

Smith signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the 49ers this offseason after visiting the Miami Dolphins and flirting with leaving the only organization he has ever known. In fact, Harbaugh had to meet with Smith to convince him to return because he felt slighted by the team's pursuit of Manning. 

While pretending like they didn't pursue Manning is essentially revisionist history by the 49ers, it is probably the best move for the organization.

The 49ers need to stand behind the quarterback they have and the guy who led them to a 13-3 record last season. By stating that they were never interested in Manning, they are essentially claiming they were happy with Smith's play in 2011 and never thought of using anyone else under center. 

Whether that's true or not, it is the best move for the organization as a whole.