The San Francisco 49ers technically have only one quarterback on the roster, Colin Kaepernick, with Alex Smith not signed to a contract for next season. All signs point to Smith being re-signed as both sides have expressed interest in the quarterback coming back. Peyton Manning has overshadowed some of the attention at the Super Bowl with his potential release by the Colts, possible retirement and the uncertainty of what will happen to the Pro Bowl quarterback. I doubt the 49ers will sign Manning if he is released by the Colts before his $28 million roster bonus goes into effect on March 28. But when you look at the teams that are in the most need of a quarterback, Redskins, Seahawks, Dolphins and Browns, the teams are not attractive options for a 36-year old QB looking to win the Super Bowl one more time. The 49ers and Jets have also been thrown into the mix only because they have talent that could go to the Super Bowl next season, and Manning could be the missing piece for both.
The 49ers were led by Smith this season to the NFC Championship game but when the offense is ranked 29th in passing, any option that looks like an upgrade is worth considering. Comparing Manning’s stats to Smith’s is not a fair evaluation, however, it is worth noting Manning’s lowest passing total in a season was in 1998 when he passed for 3,379 yards. Smith had a career high 3,144 passing yards this season.
The two biggest issues for me in signing Manning would be his three recent neck surgeries and the chemistry that has been developed by Jim Harbaugh and Smith. If Manning were to be signed, Smith would be sent packing. For all of Smith’s knocks as a game manager, etc., he did lead five come-from-behind victories this season including the Saints playoff game while only throwing five interceptions. Smith is only 27 and now has the confidence and swagger of a franchise quarterback. A full off-season to learn and brush up on Harbaugh’s offense, the continuity of offensive coordinator Greg Roman and a bulk of the 49ers offense returning next season could propel the 49ers to the Super Bowl next season.
Spending money to sign Manning would be more expensive than re-signing Smith. If the 49ers went with Manning I doubt they would be able to re-sign important players on defense that contributed heavily to the 49ers run this season like Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson. But signing Manning would be crazy because of his age and three neck surgeries. The Colts QB is one bad hit away from forced retirement and as good as the 49ers offensive line played this season, they still had their bad moments and allowed a league-high 44 sacks. The 49ers don’t need a different quarterback, they need a productive wide receiver who can elevate the 49ers passing game.
My prediction is Manning will be released by the Colts and he sign with the Jets to play in the same city as his brother Eli Manning. The 49ers will re-sign Smith. Both the Jets and 49ers will meet in next year’s Super Bowl. Ha, the last part was a joke. There is no way the Jets will ever make the Super Bowl with Rex Ryan as the head coach.
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