Kaepernick to Wallace: A 49ers combo worth considering

March 19, 2012, 1:30 pm
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UPDATE: Peyton Manning has decided to join the Denver Broncos. Stay logged on to CSNBayArea.com at this story develops.
While Peyton Manning and Alex Smith mull their options, Colin Kaepernick shows up regularly at the 49ers practice facility to work out and prepare for his big chance.Right now, Kaepernick is the only one of those three quarterbacks assured of being on the 49ers next season. And it is not far-fetched that he will be the starter -- at least at some point -- in 2012.After all, the 49ers traded up to select him with the No. 36 overall pick in last year's draft. The player chosen ahead of him, Andy Dalton, had a good rookie season in helping the Cincinnati Bengals make the playoffs.Dalton was considered more NFL-ready coming out of TCU, but there is no denying Kaepernick's physical tools -- as well as his smarts and work ethic. While the 49ers liked what they saw of him in practices last season, there was the belief that they would not know what kind of player Kaepernick could be until he got his chance to step onto the field in meaningful regular-season situations.If Manning goes to Denver or Tennessee, and Smith ends up in Miami, he might get that chance. And I don't believe general manager Trent Baalke would panic at the thought of Kaepernick getting a legitimate chance to win the starting job in a camp competition with, say, Matt Hasselbeck or Josh Johnson.And that leads to another interesting scenario, as first floated by Sports Illustrated's Peter King in his "Monday Morning Quarterback" column.The 49ers could be a major player for Pittsburgh restricted free-agent wide receiver Mike Wallace with the money they would save without Manning or Smith on the roster.The 49ers already have Michael Crabtree and newly agreed-up addition Mario Manningham. With the structure of the contract they have with Randy Moss, he'll get what amounts to a six-month tryout before the team must determine whether he fits with the program. Of course, tight end Vernon Davis is also a weapon in the passing game.With Kaepernick and his arm strength, the 49ers would become more of a vertical passing team than a year ago with Smith at quarterback. Wallace averaged 16.6 yards per reception with Ben Roethlisberger throwing him passes last season.Again, with the money saved at the quarterback position, the 49ers could easily structure an offer sheet for Wallace that the Steelers would be unable to match. Then, the 49ers would give up the No. 30 pick in the draft as compensation to the Steelers.If Smith heads to Miami, his contract -- in the 8 million-a-year range -- could go to Wallace, who would give Kaepernick a target that is more of a fit for his style. It's another point to consider while the Manning and Smith make up their minds.

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