It wasn't even 8 o'clock on Friday morning that I tweeted about how glad I was that the 49ers weren't involved in this Peyton Manning fiasco. As exciting as Harbaugh-mania was last year, it was quite taxing. For several days straight I sat endlessly refreshing Twitter, hoping for some kind of breaking news. Pundits told me he was going elsewhere, only to eventually waiver on that fact. I was so happy when it was over, not only because we got our man, but also because I could finally rest easy, knowing that there was stability in the 49ers coaching situation at last.
Not 3 hours later and the 49ers were ears deep in Peyton-Watch 2012. I've wasted an entire weekend now hoping for some news that has yet to come. Thank god I've been close to a wifi signal for more of it. That same instability that existed in the 49ers coaching ranks now exists at the position of quarterback.
Here's a couple random thoughts on the situation, in no particular order, for you to chew on while you're waitin' for Peyton:
1.) The 49ers have emerged as one of the most confident, tight lipped organizations in football. I've been very impressed by the way they've handled free agency in the last two years. Both Braylon Edwards and Randy Moss were low risk- high reward signings. Regardless of who ends up being quarterback for the 49ers, Moss may prove to be a factor in the passing game this year. If he's not, the 49ers take no major financial hit, so that move was a no brainer.
They took an amazingly confident stance with Mario Manningham and I was impressed that they landed him. They had Manningham in for a workout early last week and talked contract. They let him walk to explore his options, basically telling him that they weren't desperate to sign him. He explored his options in St. Louis and finally decided that the 49ers were the best fit for him. Financial details of his contract have yet to be released, but they must have gotten him on the cheap, because 18M in cap space doesn't leave them with much to work with. If Manningham was getting #1 wideout money, the 49ers wouldn't still be in the race for Manning.
2. The 49ers are taking an equally impressive tact in their pursuit of Peyton. Of each of the teams to express interest in Manning, the 49ers were the only ones to work him out without the Schefters of the world getting wind of it. No private jets, no over-eager appeals to him, no tweets about how impressive he was.
Despite the fact that the 49ers are the only team trying to land Manning without a solidified #1 quarterback on the roster (okay, so Tim Tebow is up for debate), the 49ers have not seemed overly desperate in their attempts to woo him. Considering that Alex Smith is a free agent and Colin Kaepernick doesn't appear ready to start, the 49ers may be in the most dire straits as Manning weighs his options. But as the market thins for Alex Smith more and more, it appears that the 49ers are truly in the drivers seat when it comes to finding their quarterback for 2012.
3. Despite how nervous most 49ers fans are, it seems pretty clear that the team will end up okay in 2012. At this point, there are four possible outcomes. First, Manning decides to play for the 49ers. Second, Manning goes to any other team and Alex Smith signs a contract with San Francisco. Third, Manning goes to the Titans and Alex Smith signs with the Dolphins, making Matt Hasslebeck available for the 49ers services as Kaepernick's learning curve is substantially sped up. The fourth and most treacherous is that Manning signs with the Broncos and Alex goes to the Dolphins, leaving the 49ers likely to sign Buccaneers back up quarterback Josh Johnson to compete with Kaepernick for a starting role. The final two options would certainly open the door financially for the 49ers to go after Mike Wallace, so in all they aren't terrible options - perhaps just the most uncertain ones.
4. As Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports reported, it looks as if Alex Smith is waiting out his decision for the future until Peyton has chosen a team. Although Smith's undying loyalty to the 49ers seems sad and desperate, it should give fans a reason to breathe easy, knowing that Alex is certainly the best alternative to Manning that the 49ers have. Much has been made of Alex's broken heart and what this fiasco will do to his confidence, but who knows - maybe this will spurn Smith to come back with a fire in his belly, knowing he has still much to prove. Financially, this would leave the 49ers open to some further retooling, with enough cap space to sign former Panthers guard Geoff Schwartz and, yes, maybe even Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace.
As fans wait hopefully for Peyton to make his decision, I'll urge you to keep from being dead set on Manning. Not more than a few days ago, most were very confident going forward with Alex Smith, and this situation doesn't change things. There are two extremely capable quarterbacks considering providing their services for the 49ers in 2012 and beyond. Given the current construction of this team, I suspect that the 49ers will be competing dor a championship regardless of the Peyton Manning outcome.