With it looking more likely that we can stop adding the word “if” to discussions of Peyton Manning’s availability, it’s only natural to take a look at potential landing spots for the quarterback.
If you’re talking to Jerry Rice, San Francisco should be on that list. There are likely other people who feel that way and there’s sure to be some speculation about Manning making his way to the Bay Area as long as Alex Smith remains unsigned. According to a report by Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, that could be a while.
Kawakami notes that everything still points toward the 49ers and Smith staying together, but he reports that there’s “nothing imminent” on the contract front. Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have made it clear that they want to keep Smith at quarterback and they likely won’t be pressured into changing their mind because of Manning’s availability. Baalke addressed Manning’s situation in an interview with KNBR Radio on Tuesday.
“We haven’t had Peyton in here, nor are we talking about those things internally.”
While getting a deal done sooner rather than later would obviously help the team approach the rest of the offseason, they also probably don’t fear the start of free agency quite as much as some teams might with their starting quarterbacks. Even after taking the Niners to the NFC Championship Game, it is hard to imagine that any other team would value Smith quite as much as the 49ers do.
All of this might change now that Manning is officially heading to the market, but, for now, it seems the plans haven’t changed in San Francisco.