The release of Peyton Manning by the Indianapolis Colts may have triggered the most extensive, high-priced bidding war in NFL history. There are plenty of quarterback-needy teams that are going to be taking advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. San Francisco is one of the teams that is more than likely going to take a pass and work something out with Alex Smith.
And even though the 49ers aren't going to throw their hat in the ring, I expect them to benefit from Manning's free agent status greatly.
The 49ers are expected to get a deal done with Smith and when that eventually happens, he'll need weapons to throw to. Honestly, I was hoping Smith was going to be signed already so wide receiver could be the central focus. There's about 12 teams seriously in the hunt for Manning; teams with money to spend in free agency. Given the price tag and time it would take to restructure deals, and make a solid pitch to Manning, and also considering his decision making time, those teams with a financial surplus will be preoccupied.
In this window of time, Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh could express strong interest in free agents that they need and would realistically acquire. Players like Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston, Pierre Garcon and Robert Meachem, who would otherwise be booked on day 1, might not be.
I think if the 49ers wanted Jackson or Colston, they may have to place a bid, but guys like Garcon and Meachem could be gotten before the rest of the league knew. And I use the word 'preoccupied' because I really believe Manning is going to command that sort of attention for desperate teams.
If Manning weren't available, then the landscape would be more evenly distributed and guys like Vincent Jackson and Mario Williams would be the top guys. But Manning is available and is the most coveted free agent ever.
So, the long time Colts quarterback will basically provide a smokescreen for the 49ers front office to fly under the radar and make moves in that given time period. I really expect them to make some moves behind the curtain while this whole circus is going on.
Follow me on Twitter: @DeSimone80