The 49ers have had one of the most successful offseasons of any NFL team so far, and it got a whole lot better Sunday, as the 49ers finalized a deal for former Giants wideout Mario Manningham, a guy they had their sights on since the season ended and they knew they needed to upgrade their wideout position.
I've liked Manningham since his days at Michigan and couldn't believe he lasted until the end of the third round in the 2008 draft. Manningham has battled some injury issues through his career, including 2011 when he missed 4 games, as well as 2 in 2009, but he looked healthy in last years postseason, especially vs. the 49ers as he was key for the Giants in that second half. After the signing of Randy Moss, the 49ers look pretty set now at wideout, and I have to say, they're looking even better than I was hoping. I was just hoping they'd land one top-end receiver this off-season, then maybe one in the draft. Then they signed Moss, and I thought that may be it as far as free agent recievers, with the market being so high. But they've now landed two potential game changing wideouts, and each can stretch the defense and are deep threats, which should really help out Michael Crabtree underneath. The 49ers weren't going to get a Vincent Jackson or Marques Colston cause those elite guys either got franchised or signed ridiculous deals (just look at DeSean and Vincent Jackson's). Luckily, they were able to add a player of Manningham's ability on a reasonable two-year deal in market where a guy only slightly better than Mario (Desean Jackson) got $50 million. Mario, in addition to Moss have completely revamped the 49ers receiving core and there's still a chance a WR they like falls to them in the draft (Stephen Hill?). It still leaves to question just who will be tossing them the pigskin?
From what I'm hearing and from a logical standpoint, it appears like the 49ers are really close with Manning and may just be the favorites. What further enforces this idea is that Alex Smith, who shares the same agent as Peyton, is just now scheduling to visit with the Miami Dolphins. If he had plans on leaving SF, he would have been meeting with teams since day one of free agency. One would have to think that said agent may have given him notice that the 49ers are the most likely candidates for Manning, so Smith better start looking elsewhere. Either that, or Smith really is irked about this whole Manning pursuit and may be looking to leave town. Manning said he expects to make a decision on a team by Monday or Tuesday, so hopefully Smith doesn't pull a Moss and sign with Miami before the Dolphins let him leave Florida. That said, the 49ers have to be feeling good about the possibility of Manning choosing them, especially with their recent new upgrades at wideout and aggressive approach towards building a championship-caliber team. This is a team that is clearly ready to win not only next year, but in the years following as well, and that should ultimately entice Manning to the Red and Gold. He could win 2-3 Super Bowls with this defense and running game! He's also got his idol yanking him towards Denver (who also have a good young defensive core, but not the running game or receiving options the 49ers have) and his old College state, Tennessee also interested if he wants to go back to his roots and help the Titans who also would be helped incredibly by a Manning signing. Either way, this saga should wound up by our next post, and I've made no bones about it, I hope he ends up in San Francisco.
Smith possibly bolting and Manning signing elsewhere is something I'm worried about though, and that has to be in the back of Trent Baalke and Jim Harbough's mind. After those two, there's the Kevin Kolb 2.0 in Matt Flynn and that's about it. Kyle Orton would probably be my choice as the fallback, emergency guy, or another option could be dealing a pick for someone elses backup. I don't know why they didn't sign Jason Campbell before Chiacgo did? He would have been the ideal backup plan QB, or insurance policy to Manning.