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49ers vs. Broncos: Peyton Manning is hard to sack and always has been

Newsflash: getting to Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is tough. The San Francisco 49ers may not be able to do it.

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has been sacked 276 times in his career. I don't know how many times he's been hit as he's thrown the ball, but it's surely been a lot. But 276 sacks sure does seem like a lot, does't it? Well it is and it isn't. Manning has been in the league since 1998, and has played in 245 regular season games. In other words, he gets sacked roughly 1.1 times per game.

That's not much.

Among active players, Manning is the sixth most-sacked quarterback, though that is still counting Jon Kitna and Matt Hasselbeck as active. Counting really active players, he's fourth, behind Michael Vick (290), Tom Brady (356) and Ben Roethlisberger (403). Keep in mind that Manning has been in the league two years longer than Brady, who himself is well-regarded as having a quick release and excellent presence of mine to avoid sacks and six years longer than Roethlisberger.

All-time, he's the 45th most-sacked quarterback, behind a ton of guys who were very, very good at football and getting rid of the ball, but who played a lot less football than he did. Brett Favre is the most-sacked quarterback at 525. John Elway came in at No. 2 with 516.

This season, the 49ers have allowed Colin Kaepernick to go down 13 times. That ranks them No. 13 in the league, tied with the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. Manning has only been brought down six times this year, tied for 28th in the league with the Cleveland Browns. Only the New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders (?) and Cincinnati Bengals have allowed fewer sacks.

Manning ranks second in the NFL in time it takes to throw the ball after his dropback, according to Pro Football Focus. He throws it, on average, in 2.27 seconds. Only Andy Dalton is faster, throwing the ball in 2.26 seconds. As an aside, it's worth noting that PFF doesn't even give Manning a "time it takes before scrambling" stat. Manning's release is among the quickest in the league on top of that. PFF charts his throw just .02 seconds after his attempt, which can't be totally accurate at this point (we're entering the realm of slight subjectivity) but it's worth noting regardless.

All of this means one thing: it's really hard to sack Peyton Manning. You can jam his receivers at the line of scrimmage, and he'll still either find them or get the ball away before you can sack him. You can try and disguise your blitz all you want, but no quarterback in the league is better at diagnosing a defense. He knows wen you're coming and he's almost always going to get away from the pressure by getting rid of the football.

No team thus far this season has been able to put him under that much pressure, save for the New York Jets. They didn't blitz much in the game, but somehow generated some solid pressure with a three-man rush. Manning was hit a couple times and was forced into a few bad throws. But he was still only sacked twice. The 49ers haven't been able to generate that kind of pressure much this season.

San Francisco got things done against the St. Louis Rams thanks to a huge day from Dan Skuta and an incredibly poor day from Jake Long. They can't count on that against the Broncos, who are good against just about everything. Given New York's success with a three-man front, the 49ers probably have to come out of the gate and throw something at them that Manning hasn't observed on film. That's pretty much the only way to beat him, in my opinion.