Originally written on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/9/13
Halfway through the frenzied Peyton Manning free agency saga, Manning stopped in Raleigh, NC to work out with David Cutcliffe—his mentor and former offensive coordinator at Tennessee. Discretion was critical because Manning’s travel itinerary was more scrutinized then Santa’s on Christmas Eve. No wonder Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman—San Francisco’s head coach and offensive coordinator—crept onto Duke’s practice field like cat burglars in hoodies trying to steal the greatest treasure in free agent history.The ploy didn’t work…but what if it had?Without Manning, San Francisco earned the No. 2 seed and a first round bye in the playoffs behind an 11-4-1 record. The offense ranked 11th overall, outdueling superior offenses like Green Bay (30-22, Week 1), New Orleans (31-21, Week 12) and New England (41-34, Week 15).But the 49ers passing game only ranked 23rd in yards and 16th in scoring. Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick were both stifled against tougher defenses like the Giants (3-26, Week ...
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