The fans in Seattle, Arizona, Kansas City, Minnesota, Cleveland, Baltimore, New York Jets, Miami, Dallas, Washington, and some disgruntled fringers in probably a few more NFL cities are lusting at the thought, real or far-fetched, that soon to be FA Peyton Manning will choose to sign with their team this offseason and make them instant favorites for the 2013 Super Bowl. Many 49er fans are on this drool list, too, you can be sure.
And, on the surface, why not? Peyton is certainly one of the greatest QBs to ever play the game. The Colts went from yearly playoff entrants to dead last without him, indicating his pedestrian 9-10 playoff record was more a product of not having a decent defense or running game, than any choker quality he might possess. An obvious comparison is John Elway, who went to four SBs with sub-par teams, losing all four, before winning his last two shots when he finally had a real team behind him.
However, Manning is currently not healthy enough to play, has no idea when he will be, is thirty-six, and his unhealthiness involves his neck and nerves, which is not exactly a simple bad knee or bum foot. His life could be at risk. There’s no certainty he’ll ever play again.
But it is pretty close to a certainty he won’t be able to play come March and the beginning of the Free Agency period. Any team leaving room on their roster for the possibility that he may get healthy enough to play this year is one desperate team. The Jets fall into that category. The 49ers do not.
Kicking Alex Smith to the curb after the season he just had and the season the team just had would torpedo the entire Team First, got your back attitude Jim Harbaugh installed in 2011. A family feeling that makes guys want to play here. And Manning isn’t necessary for this team to reach the Super Bowl. Every team in the league knows the 49ers would be in the SB this year if they had some decent WRs. In fact, the 49ers are in a great spot with Smith. He’s a good QB who fits Harbaugh’s system and he doesn’t cost a cap tilting $20 million a year. He’s also only 27 years old. His best years are still ahead of him. Manning’s are not.
The Cardinals are said to be interested, but that seems hard to believe. The Bidwells aren’t Dan Snyder. They just paid a lot of money to a QB and barely got to see him play. They won’t foot the bill for both Manning and Kevin Kolb, so Kolb would have to be cut and then Manning would have to stay healthy. A very high risk bet. Not the kind they are likely to make. And not the kind Manning would likely make, either. His neck versus two games each year against both the Niners and Seahawks defenses is not a wise choice. Not to mention the Cardinals offensive line, which had something to do with Kolb’s year long health problems.
IOW, this topic is only marginally interesting, and pretty close to a supersized ho-hummer. Still, it beats hell out of the other news trampling across the NFL landscape this week, which shall go unnamed. Just about any topic in the world is better than this unmentionable open wound.
But if 49er fans are hurting, one can only imagine how bad Brad Seely feels. His Special Teams were outstanding all year long — except for one game. The last one. The one his guys muffed away.