SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers walks off the field at the end of the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The Giants beat the 49ers 20-17. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Sunday morning started off kind of slow but it revved up in the late afternoon with Matt Flynn signing a three-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks. With Flynn joining the NFC West and taking another quarterback-needy team off the market, Alex Smith's choices dwindled. Until Smith had a five-plus hour long meeting with the Miami Dolphins and reportedly began negotiations.
Smith must've felt a little mistreated and thought he could have similar success in Miami with an offensive minded guy in Joe Philbin. The 49ers are set in their ways; they assign value to each player and they don't budge -- Smith is just disgruntled that they did it to him and it didn't line up with all the verbal boasting they gave him.
At this point, Peyton Manning's decision means much more to the 49ers than it did a day prior. Smith appears ready to move on from the 49ers and San Francisco looks prepared to let him. A lot of questions and concerns have risen regarding what the Niners will do if Manning doesn't choose the 49ers.
I believe the division is still winnable with Colin Kaepernick having a full offseason with Jim Harbaugh and the entire defense returning. But if Manning chooses Tennessee, one could expect them to release Matt Hasselbeck who the 49ers were linked to last offseason. If Manning chooses Denver, Tim Tebow will probably be traded and San Francisco will likely stick with Kaepernick and Scott Tolzein, with a probable draft addition.
The presence of Manning as a free agent really changed the winds of free agency, but I believe even though it appears bleak, San Francisco has protected themselves and does have a contingency plan. Remember, they traded up for Kaepernick in the second round -- for all we know, he's the best player in that stellar draft class they had.
A lot is riding on the decision of Peyton Manning, and for most of us, it could not come soon enough. There will be implications from this whole drama, and it will be curious to see how the 49ers handle it.
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