Smith no longer controls own fate with 49ers

March 16, 2012, 8:27 pm
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There was already an intriguing Alex Smith tie-in to Peyton Manning before ESPN reported Friday morning that the 49ers this week inserted themselves into the competition.And we're not talking about agent Tom Condon representing both men, either. This scenario involves Matt Hasselbeck.There appear to be three teams who remain serious contenders to sign Manning: Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans and the late-arriving 49ers.Coach Jim Harbaugh and 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman traveled across the country to visit with Manning and watch him throw the football. And the 49ers also medically checked out Manning, who underwent four neck procedures including a spinal fusion surgery.A week ago, the word out of the 49ers, as reported by, was that there was a contract offer on the table for Smith and the club was not interested in Manning. And Harbaugh has stated repeated that Alex Smith was "our guy."RELATED: Report -- Harbaugh worked out Peyton Manning
Smith did not seem too concerned at a fundraiser for Kurt Warner's foundation over the weekend in Tempe, Ariz., when he said, "It will get done."Even on Thursday -- two days after the reported Manning-49ers throwing session -- the word from 49ers brass was that the Smith deal would happen.Now, it's quite apparent that Smith does not control his own fate with the 49ers.Obviously, if the 49ers were to sign Manning, Smith would be out the door. And, now, we have to wonder how things will shake out if Manning signs with the Tennessee Titans, too.
Why?A year ago, the 49ers went after Hasselbeck, who decided to sign with the Titans, instead. Hasselbeck shares the same agent, David Dunn, as Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke. Hasselbeck later said he almost signed with the 49ers.There was a point last year when Harbaugh was asked if he thought about bringing in another quarterback to compete with Smith for the starting job."Well, we did think about it before, and we thought we had a guy there in free agency," Harbaugh said. "And (it) didn't work out."There is some skepticism around the league whether the 49ers are really a strong candidate to sign Manning. But there is a lot of skepticism about Smith's future, too.
One NFL executive who is closely monitoring the situation told, "Alex Smith has no place to go."The Denver Post reported some numbers that the teams are working off -- and it's confirmed -- that the conversation is starting at five years, 90 million with 30 million guaranteed.With 18 million in cap space, that is not an issue for the 49ers. The issue is whether the 49ers really want to make a huge commitment to Manning, and whether Manning is sold on the idea of playing for the 49ers.According to one source, Manning does not necessarily want to re-create what he had in Indianapolis. He has asked questions about how things might be different with his new team. That includes the offense, the personnel and how practices are structured.So, conceivably, Harbaugh could be persuasive in showing Manning how he would fit perfectly into the same kind of scheme the 49ers designed for Alex Smith a year ago.There's been an offer on the table to Smith for some time. It's a deal, sources have said, that leaves the door open for Colin Kaepernick to take over as the starter in the future. CEO Jed York said Monday that the ball was in Smith's court.Now, with Harbaugh, Smith's biggest supporter, taking a cross-country flight to talk to Manning, it seems as if Smith has very little control of the matter.