Alex Smith's hesitation may have the Niners looking to upgrade
Last week, the San Francisco 49ers said they had no interest in Peyton Manning. But recent reports put the Niners among the three teams he is expected to choose from early next week.
So what changed? For one, Manning is now working out for teams rather than expecting them to sign him based on reports of a private workout. For another, clearly the team feels Alex Smith is asking for too many dollars, years or both, making a push for Manning seem more reasonable.
If San Francisco wants and can afford him, they are obviously his best destination. No other team in the running for his services plays in as weak a division nor came as close to the Super Bowl. The weather is mild and conducive to passing, and the Bay Area offers as much culture as any market in the league with less pressure than many.
But the Niners need receivers. Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree are not going to be enough to recruit a quarterback. Even with Vernon Davis leading a deep and talented group of tight ends and good receivers out of the backfield, there are not a lot of weapons to work with.
However, there is no shortage of additional receivers they could sign. Reggie Wayne is still available and would help get Manning. Brandon Lloyd and Mario Manningham have already visited, and there are easily a dozen other potential starting wide receivers on the market, not to mention potential be salary cap casualties like Donald Driver.
The Niners can hope that Moss is a true starter. Crabtree is, but not a No. 1. Adding another guy who can play every down will make their overall receiving corps above average. Peyton Manning will know he will make the offense as elite as defense and special teams.