It doesn’t matter whether anyone — or everyone — outside the 49ers organization believe coach Jim Harbaugh was telling something other than the truth when claiming earlier this week that his team didn’t flirt with and/or pursue Peyton Manning. Harbaugh’s intended audience was his players, with the most important member of the crowd being quarterback Alex Smith.
Though Smith has yet to comment on Harbaugh’s comments, the quarterback who joined the 49ers after Manning opted to play in Denver was asked Thursday to react to Harbaugh’s position that he merely evaluated Manning.
“I didn’t pay any mind to it,” Josh Johnson said, via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News. “There’s so many things you hear that supposedly happened or didn’t happen. All you can go about is what you see.”
Johnson, who played for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego, apparently didn’t elaborate on what he saw, or at least what he perceived. The rest of us perceived a pursuit of Peyton Manning by the 49ers. And in turn a prevarication (thanks, Tiki) by Harbaugh.
With Manning not a member of the team, Smith now is left to worry about Johnson and 2011 second-round pick Colin Kaepernick — taken one spot after the Bengals selected Andy Dalton. And Smith surely knows that, if the 49ers struggle out of the gates in 2012 and if Smith can’t properly distribute the ball to the expanding set of weapons, which now includes Vernon Davis, Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins, Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs, and LaMichael James, Kaepernick or Johnson could get a shot to turn the thing around.
That’s why Smith slid so far out of character last week by criticizing Cam Newton, and that’s why Harbaugh is trying to undo the damage that may have been done to Smith’s confidence by whatever it is that the 49ers did with Peyton Manning.
Whether it helps likely depends on whether Smith believes him. And Smith likely won’t be telling the truth about whether he thinks Harbaugh told the truth, if the truth is that Smith thinks Harbaugh didn’t tell the truth.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!