The only NFL fans cheering this morning were Broncos fan, as Denver emerged as the winner of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. For the Titans and 49ers, the other two finalists vying Manning, the teams pivot to taking their franchises in another direction.
For the San Francisco 49ers, this means re-courting Alex Smith who met with the Dolphins for more than five-hours on Sunday. Before the news of the 49ers pursuing Manning, we here at Niner Noise thought Smith re-signing was a foregone conclusion. Now, with the 49ers falling short of signing Manning and Smith seeing what his options are outside of San Francisco, Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke must convince the quarterback to return.
You cannot blame the 49ers for pursuing Manning. Rarely does a future Hall of Fame quarterback with a Super Bowl ring and one as accomplished as Peyton, become available in free agency. The former Colts quarterback is one of the biggest/best players to become available via free agency since the era began in 1993. The 49ers could have handled working Peyton out in a more public way. The secrecy made it seem like the 49ers wanted to have their hand in the cookie jar, but didn’t want to be seen doing so. The 49ers brass had to have known the news of the team watching Manning work out would be leaked at some point. Harbaugh and Baalke now have their work cut out in convincing Smith he was their man all along, truth or not.
Let’s hope Alex Smith feel does not feel spurned by San Francisco to take his talents to South Beach or somewhere else. Smith understands the NFL is a business, he only needs to look at the how the Colts and Manning parted ways. But it could go the other direction for the 49ers with Smith leaving San Francisco because of the business side of the NFL. If he does, you cannot blame him. Would you return to a workplace who offered you a contract, and then a week later you find out they were secretly trying to woo someone much better and more experience?
The only signed QB on the 49ers’ roster is Colin Kaepernick who is at the earliest, a year or two away from being a bona fide starter. Remember, Greg Roman’s offense has been described by 49ers as being complex and hard to grasp with the terminology. As last season went on, the offense, including Smith played better, especially in the second half of the season. Manning would have been nice but now the reality is either Smith re-signs or the 49ers had the reins of the franchise to Kaepernick who may think he is ready, but is far from it.
Should Smith sign elsewhere and Kaepernick becomes the starter, the 49ers drop in the ranks of Super Bowl contenders. You never know what could happen with Kaepernick in his second season as he becomes more familiar with the offense and learns how to play the position better under Harbaugh. But Kaepernick will go through growing pains if he is the starter next season. The 49ers were a muffed punt fumble away from returning to the Super Bowl and don’t need a QB working out the kinks as a first-time starter. Smith may not be the long-term answer, but the 49ers swung and missed with another short-term answer trying to sign Manning. This makes bringing Smith back all the more urgent.
With Manning at quarterback the 49ers would have been the favorites to win the Super Bowl. With Smith at quarterback the 49ers are favorites to win the NFC West and are Super Bowl contenders. With Kaepernick at quarterback, the 49ers would still be favorites to win the NFC West because of their defense, but would fall back in the power rankings and would lose the Super Bowl contender status.
Your move Alex Smith.
Please share your feedback with us in the comments section (for help click HERE)