You gotta give Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke credit. Whether or not they acknowledged it publicly, they tried to catch the big fish. They went after Peyton Manning.
Unfortunately for the coach and GM, they found out Monday that Manning has decided to take his surgically-repaired neck to Denver.
Though not surprising, there was some unexpected fallout from their pursuit of Manning. Alex Smith decided to start shopping his services, visiting the Miami Dolphins over the weekend. (Though he did fly coach. On a red-eye.)
Several reports said Smith was planning to visit the Seahawks, but that flight never left the ground. Seattle signed Matt Flynn, Aaron Rodgers’ back-up in Green Bay, to a three-year, $19 million deal with $10 million guaranteed:
So while their girlfriend sat at home, the 49ers snuck out to a bar looking for something better. The girlfriend got tipped off and went out on the prowl.
Now, the 49ers have to go groveling back to the girlfriend, hoping she’s willing to forgive and forget.
Yes, Alex Smith is the girlfriend.
The problem? While the Niners struck out, Smith found someone he’s compatible with. Mike Kils of the Denver Post reported that Smith and the Dolphins have started negotiating a deal. That doesn’t mean a deal is imminent, but it means that the two sides are at the bargaining table.
It’s the 49ers ultimate nightmare scenario. Manning chooses to go elsewhere and Smith, feeling unwanted by Harbaugh and Baalke, leaves. A team that was so close to the Super Bowl would take a few steps backwards if they are forced to throw Colin Kaepernick into the fire.
As Peter King wrote on SI.com, the 49ers have to have a back up plan in case this scenario plays itself out.
The Niners have Kaepernick and hope that he will eventually become the starter. But every indication points to Kaepernick not being ready.
An intriguing free agent is former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Josh Johnson, who played for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego. Johnson has very limited NFL experience, though, despite being in the league for three years.
Johnson started just one game in 2011 after starting zero games in 2010. So he’s a risk. If you’re thinking about signing a guy that has started one game over a two-year span, you might as well save the money and just give the job to Kaepernick.
With the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, the 49ers don’t have to target wide receivers in the draft. It’s conceivable that the 49ers could use their first round pick on a quarterback, though unlikely considering they just drafted Kaepernick last year.
Two prospects to keep an eye on are Arizona State’s Brock Osweller and Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill.
So, the options after Smith are murky at best.
If the Niners don’t feel Kaepernick or Johnson are ready, they could always call the Broncos and ask about some kid named Tebow. I think he’s available.