Harbaugh revisits 49ers' 'evaluation' of Peyton Manning

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Harbaugh revisits 49ers' 'evaluation' of Peyton Manning

On the evening of March 13, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman traveled to North Carolina to watch then-free-agent quarterback Peyton Manning work out.Six days later, Manning chose to sign with the Denver Broncos instead of the 49ers and the Tennessee Titans.Shortly thereafter, Manning reflected on the decision in an interview with Sports Illustrated's Peter King. Manning said it was difficult to call Titans coach Mike Munchak and Harbaugh to deliver bad news."I wish I hadn't gotten so close to Munch," Manning said. "That was a tough call. Same with Jim Harbaugh."REWIND: Full details of Alex Smith's contract
More than two months later, Harbaugh made his first direct comments about the 49ers' pursuit of Manning. Harbaugh confirmed he received that phone call from Manning.But he objected to the notion the 49ers would've awarded Manning huge money and brushed aside Alex Smith. The Broncos signed Manning to a deal that took up 18 million in cap space. The 49ers' adjusted 2012 salary cap is 138 million."Oh, one other thing," Harbaugh said at the conclusion of his media briefing Wednesday with reporters after practice. He had something he wanted to say.
"There's a perception out there, and it's an erroneous perception, that we were flirting with Peyton Manning. I keep hearing that over and over and over again. It's silly. And it's untrue. It's phony."Even the perception we were pursuing him. We were evaluating him. I said it all along that Alex Smith is our quarterback. There's no scenario other than Alex choosing to sign with another team that we would've considered him not as our quarterback."Don't like to compare or talk about somebody else who's on another team, but in this case, wanted to set the record straight. Alex Smith is our quarterback, was our quarterback and had every intention of always bringing him back. There'd be no circumstance where we would've let Alex Smith go."Now, were we out there seeing, evaluating if we could have them both? Heck, yeah. You evaluate that. You eliminate the possibility. Further evidence, we would not have given any player that was out there in free agency (one-sixth) of our salary cap and let six or seven of our own guys go. So hopefully that sets the record straight and you don't have to keep reporting the silliness and the phoniness."Q: Did Manning contact the 49ers and express interest in joining the 49ers?
Harbaugh: "Yeah, like I said, there was interest. We evaluated it, pursued it, or we evaluated it and there were conversations. I'm not going to go into all those personal conversations. But there was nothing said to Alex that was not said to Peyton Manning or in-house here, on the record, off the record. Both of those young men knew exactly what our intentions were. Very clear about that, that Alex Smith would be back here as our quarterback in 2012, if we could make signing. We said the same thing to Alex that we said to Peyton."Q: Was Alex going to Miami just part of the game with free agency?
Harbaugh: "He was a free agent, and he went on a visit, yes."Q: When you evaluated Peyton and went out to North Carolina, what did you think of him?
Harbaugh: "Well, we thought that was a critical thing to do. He came off a season where he was injured and didn't play. He's going to be a fine player in the National Football League and he made the best decision for himself going to the Denver Broncos. We wish him nothing but success. He'll be good. He'll be fine.Q: You would've had to severely adjust your roster to fit him under the salary cap?
Harbaugh: "We're not going into all the . . . it's not your right or anybody else's right to know exactly what those implications would've been, but you can understand . . . The best fit for us was Alex Smith. And we weren't going to give a sixth of our salary cap to anybody because we like six or seven of the current guys we have on this team that much."Q: If Manning said he wanted to come, would Alex still be here as well?
Harbaugh: "That would've been the hope, yeah. Like I said, there was no scenario where we weren't going to have Alex Smith on this team if we could help it. You don't control all those factors. I think that's very clear, very concise. Hopefully, everybody can understand that.Q: When he decided on Denver, he contacted you personally. Is that accurate?
Harbaugh: "That's accurate, that like I said, Peyton chose the Denver Broncos and we wish him well."

Bruce Allen: Kirk Cousins will play for Washington in 2017

Bruce Allen: Kirk Cousins will play for Washington in 2017

PHOENIX – Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins will continue to be Washington’s quarterback for the 2017 season, according to team president Bruce Allen.

“That’s why we franchised him, yes,” Allen said during an interview with CSN Mid-Atlantic at the NFL owners meetings.

Cousins and Washington did not reach agreement on a multi-year contract extension before the start of the free-agent signing period. Washington tagged Cousins as the organization’s exclusive franchise player, taking him off the free-agent market for any interested clubs, such as the 49ers.

Cousins is set to earn $23.94 million in 2017, unless the sides agree to a new deal before the July 15 deadline. The price for Cousins to be franchised again in 2018 would be $34.47 million.

"We’ve had a lot of dialogue," Allen said. "He signed his tender. Obviously, we have an option for the ’18 season. Our goal from the beginning has been long term. I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."

The 49ers with new coach Kyle Shanahan are expected to be interested in Cousins, but there have no trade talks with any teams, Allen said. Shanahan was Washington's offensive coordinator under his father, then-head coach Mike Shanahan, for Cousins' first two NFL seasons.

"I can't keep up with the rumors," Allen said. "Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven't talked to anyone."

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

PHOENIX -- If the Cleveland Browns’ only reasonable decision with the top overall pick consists of Myles Garrett or Myles Garrett, the 49ers have considerably more options at No. 2 overall.

After Garrett, the Texas A&M pass-rusher, there appears to be no consensus second-best prospect in the draft. So the 49ers must be open to considering almost anything.

“You got to talk about every option because you never know what will happen,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You got to be ready for anything somebody will call you on, whether it’s a trade or not. So you got to go through those because they can happen quickly, especially when you get closer to draft day.

“Right now, it’s not necessarily in my mind the No. 2 pick. It’s taking the time to understand the whole pool of people. Who’s going to be available at two? Who’s going to be available halfway through the first round? What are the players you can get in the second and third round? That’s not something that just gets done. You have to watch a lot of tape. You got to listen to your scouts and all the homework they’ve done with the character on these guys and soak it all in for a couple of months.”

Shanahan was on hand Thursday for Stanford’s pro day, during which defensive lineman Solomon Thomas worked out. Thomas is considered a strong candidate to be the No. 2 player off the board.

But does Thomas fit with the 49ers? Under former general manager Trent Baalke, the 49ers invested their top draft picks in Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in back-to-back years. Would the 49ers consider spending their top pick on another defensive lineman?

“It really doesn’t concern me what we’ve done in the past or what we’re going to do in the future,” Shanahan said. “It’s what we have now. If we think that player can help us and improve us, then that’s what we’ll do. You want to get the best guy possible. There are lots of options open.”

As the 49ers transition to a four-man defensive line, the team is in need or a pass-rusher. Ahmad Brooks tied with Buckner for the team-lead last season with six sacks. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch tied for tops on the 49ers with 6.5 sacks.

Brooks, 33, enters his 12th NFL season. Shanahan said he believes Thomas (6 foot 3, 273 pounds) is versatile enough to be a pass-rush threat at defensive end in the 49ers’ new scheme.

“I believe so,” Shanahan said. “I believe he can probably line up anywhere he wants. (But I’m) still not done with my research, yet.”

Thomas won the 2017 Morris Trophy, as the Pac-12’s top defensive lineman, as voted on by the conference’s offensive linemen.