Sunday, March 18, 2012

49ers Chasing Peyton Manning--A Stupid Move

What in the hell is wrong with the San Francisco 49ers? They've lost their minds. Suddenly they're making crazy move after crazy move.

First lunatic move. On Monday they signed 35-year-old,  has-been, head-case receiver Randy Moss, who hasn't played in a year. Then they top that by joining the hunt for damaged QB Peyton Manning, another 35-year-old who hasn't played in a year. They've already signed Moss,  but there's time to stop the Manning insanity.

The Indianapolis Colts had a chance to re-sign Manning, their QB for 14 seasons, for a small fortune. They're smart. They declined, pushing him down the free-agent trail. There are many problems with Manning. Sure, he's among the top five QBs of all time, but he's also nearing the end of his career. What's worse, he didn't play last year because of a neck injury. After four surgeries, though, his doctors swear he's ready to play. But considering age, injury and the year off, he may be reduced to an average or ineffective QB.

The Colts wisely passed on re-signing Manning because they didn't want to spend jillions on damaged goods. Also, with the No.1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft they have their choice of potential superstar QBs, Stanford's Andrew Luck or Baylor's Robert Griffin III.

So on the open market, Manning has narrowed his choices to the Denver Broncos, the Tennessee Titans and the San Francisco 49ers. Reportedly he's leaning toward the Titans, whose eager, desperate owner Bud Adams is prepared to give Manning whatever he wants.

What are these teams thinking? This Manning isn't the Manning of old. He can't be. Not only is he old, but he'll be battling rust after missing a year. On top of that, I don't care what he says, he'll be playing tentatively, knowing that he's one resounding hit from ending his career, or, worse, from suffering some crippling neck injury. Also, he'll need first-rate pass protection. Not sure he'll get that from the 49er line, which is just average and best at run-blocking. Fans normally cringe when their QB gets pounded. Watching Manning, who'll be even slower at his advanced age, be a target for pass rushers will be positively nerve-wracking. It would take some of the fun out of watching a Niner game.

That's not all. Manning isn't really a good fit with the Niners. He's used to a fleet, grade A passing offense and top-notch receivers. That's not what he'll get with the Niners, a slow-moving, grind-it-out team geared to rushing and crunching defense. Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree are a notch below the receivers Manning is accustomed to. And who knows what you'll get from Randy Moss?

What makes chasing Manning even more stupid is that it may cost the Niners their veteran QB Alex Smith, whose contract is up. Though not great, Smith is solid and a good fit for this team. Reportedly he's unhappy with the Niners' three-year offer, preferring something longer and more lucrative. So Smith is talking to other teams--Miami and Seattle so far. There's something else bothering Smith. His agent, Tom Condon, also works for Manning, a clear conflict of interest in negotiations with the Niners. Look for Smith to hire someone else.

It's quite possible that Manning, who says he'll decide by Tuesday, may sign with Denver or Tennessee and Smith may wind up with another team, leaving the Niners with no QB.  It would serve them right. When you make stupid moves, you pay the price.

Speaking as a San Francisco 49ers fan, I have a message for former Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning. "Peyton, Peyton go away, don't bother us."