Originally written on SportsBlooded  |  Last updated 3/16/12

During all of the NFL free agency talk over the last few weeks in regards to where Peyton Manning was going to land, there was always the possibility that there was a sleeper team out there who could come in at the last minute and scoop Manning up. It looks like that sleeper team is the defending NFC west champion San Francisco 49ers. Manning has been working out at Duke University over the past few weeks and league sources are reporting that 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Greg Roman and a member of their medical staff visited Manning in North Carolina.

The 49ers join the Denver Broncos and the Tennessee Titans as the three teams who are in contention for Manning’s services. The Broncos and the Titans are planning to work Manning out in the next couple days. The Arizona Cardinals seem to be out of the running after deciding to retain Kevin Kolb by paying him his $7 million roster bonus. The 49ers have the best team of the bunch and would give Manning the best opportunity to win a Super Bowl.

For the 49ers, it’s going to ultimately come down to money. GM Trent Baalke and Harbaugh have been known for offering free agents what they feel is fair and letting other teams outbid them. Manning is a special type of free agent, but I would be very surprised if they outbid other teams to sign him. It’s a tough fit for Manning in San Fransisco because they have a very hands-on head coach. Harbaugh wouldn’t be willing to pass off complete control of the 49ers offense to Manning, so Manning would have to be willing to work in tandem with Harbaugh on the offense.  Sacrifices will have to be made on both ends but it could make for one of the strongest teams in the NFL.

Harbaugh was able to turn the 49ers around last year and lead them to one of the best seasons in 49ers history. Harbaugh helped QB Alex Smith revitalized his career and turn himself into a top-10 QB in the NFL. 49ers fans had been wondering why they hadn’t finalized their deal with Smith, and now they have the answer to that question. With the 49ers roster, both Smith and Manning have the ability to take the 49ers to the Super Bowl. I’d stay with Smith because of his age and his growth last year and use their free agency dollars to grab some additional WR threats and a strong right guard.

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