Unchanged 49ers approach could appeal to Manning

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Unchanged 49ers approach could appeal to Manning

During his meetings with the teams courting him, quarterback Peyton Manning has not been selling himself and his way of doing things.Manning, who spent his entire Indianapolis Colts career in the same offensive scheme, is not interested in bringing everything he mastered to his new team, an NFL executive told CSNBayArea.com.Instead, Manning has asked questions and listened attentively while keeping an open mind to new ideas. And that might be the 49ers' best selling point to the four-time MVP.
Manning, who turns 36 next Saturday, missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing neck fusion surgery on Sept. 9. The Colts cut Manning on March 7 after the organization decided not to pick up a 28 million roster bonus.Manning has reportedly narrowed his choices to the Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos and 49ers. The Titans can offer Manning a lifetime contract. The Broncos have the most salary cap room of the contenders.
The 49ers can offer Manning plenty of money, too, along with a solid supporting cast and a fresh approach.In 2010 with the Colts, Manning attempted 42.4 passes per game. Last season, quarterback Alex Smith attempted 28 passes a game with the 49ers.A team that gears its offense around throwing the ball is going to spend more time practicing a wider variety of pass routes. Theoretically, that's more wear and tear during the course of the offseason, training camp and in-season practices.And a team that throws the ball 40 times a game will also subject its quarterback to more punishment. After all, Smith was sacked 44 times last season -- once every 11 times he dropped back to throw.Coach Jim Harbaugh's philosophy of a power running game and using play-action pass could be exactly what Manning wants at this stage in his career.Running back Frank Gore would not face a regular diet of eight-man fronts as he did last season when the 49ers ranked 29th in the NFL in passing yards. With Manning behind center, things would open up for the run game. And with an effective run game, Manning would surely benefit and, conceivably, see his career extended.The source said Manning is not locked into playing in the same Colts system with his new team. In fact, Manning might want something different to reinvigorate him.Bill Polian, the general manager who drafted Manning in 1998 and now works of ESPN, said recently that while Manning is an expert in the system he ran with the Colts, his knowledge of NFL offenses is far-reaching."No one studies football as much as Peyton Manning," Polian said. "He's the ultimate expert. He knows the rudiments of virtually every offense there is. He spends time in the off-season studying offenses that are a little bit different than ours and he picks the brains of coaches he's had in the Pro Bowl."And it's entirely possible Manning sought out the 49ers because he recognized it as a good fit.Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated wrote this week: "The owner of one 2011 playoff team told SI that while his club was not pursuing Manning, it would seriously consider signing him (pending a positive medical report) if he phoned and said he wanted to play for them."The 49ers had an offer on the table to Alex Smith a week ago, as reported by CSNBayArea.com, and was showing no interested in Manning. When the 49ers and Smith did not finalize a multi-year agreement at the start of free agency, something changed.Were the 49ers the team that was waiting on Manning to call them? Did Manning pick up the phone?The sides spoke Tuesday in North Carolina when Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman paced Manning through a workout, as ESPN first reported.
Harbaugh can be very persuasive, but perhaps all he had to do was tell Manning that the offensive philosophy the 49ers employed in 2011 would remain in place.With that ground-based approach and Smith at quarterback, the 49ers won the NFC West with a 13-3 record. The 49ers lost to the eventual Super Bowl-champion New York Giants, in overtime, in the NFC championship game.The 49ers were able to keep their entire dominating defense intact this offseason with a franchise tag for safety Dashon Goldson and the re-signings of cornerback Carlos Rogers and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks.The team added a potential vertical threat with the addition of Randy Moss to a one-year contract to pair with Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis in the passing game.
It is believed that Manning listened, asked questions, and kept an open mind.The NFL Network reported that Manning has informed the 49ers, Titans and Broncos that his decision will be made Monday or Tuesday.

Jim Harbaugh: I deserve a medal for lasting so long under 49ers ownership

Jim Harbaugh: I deserve a medal for lasting so long under 49ers ownership

In Kyle Shanahan’s first breath after being introduced as 49ers head coach on Feb. 9, he mentioned Jim Harbaugh, along with Bill Walsh, George Seifert and Steve Mariucci.

The head coach of Michigan was listening, and he appreciated the gesture.

“It was very flattering that he said nice things about us at his news conference, and I appreciated that,” Harbaugh said on "The TK Show," a podcast from Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group.

“Now, I don’t think I was there long enough to be compared with Bill Walsh or Coach Seifert, etc. But I think did – and correct me if I’m wrong – I think we did set a record for coaching there the longest under the present ownership, if I’m not wrong.”

That is correct.

Since John and Denise York took over control of the 49ers in 2000 from Denise’s brother, Eddie DeBartolo, the 49ers have employed eight head coaches. Mike Nolan was fired after seven games of his fourth season. The two coaches who followed Harbaugh -- Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly -- were fired after 5-11 and 2-14 seasons, respectively.

Harbaugh’s teams advanced to the NFC Championship Game in each of his first three seasons, including a Super Bowl appearance. He and the 49ers “mutually parted ways,” the club announced, immediately after the team finished with an 8-8 record in 2014.

“I take pride in that,” Harbaugh said. “Maybe there should be an endurance medal, a courage medal, for that.”

Shanahan mentioned Harbaugh during his opening remarks at the introductory press conference earlier this month:

“I’ve got to start out thanking Jed and the whole York family. Giving me this opportunity is, it’s a dream come true and it’s not just an opportunity to be a head coach, but to be a head coach at a place like this where you talk about Bill Walsh, you talk about George Seifert, Steve Mariucci, Jim Harbaugh and you can go down the line with the coaches.”

Said Harbaugh, “Just appreciated it. Appreciated it, and not just for me personally, but appreciated that for all the wonderful players we had and the wonderful coaches and the effort that was put in. People poured their hearts and souls into those years. It’s just appreciated that Kyle would make that comment.”

Harbaugh said he has deep respect for Shanahan and new 49ers general manager John Lynch, whom Harbaugh asked to speak to his Stanford teams during his four-year tenure as head coach.

“Yeah, I would’ve loved to have worked for John Lynch,” Harbaugh said. “He reminds me a lot of the athletic director we have here Warde Manuel, who’s also a former player and a teammate of mine. Common sense guys who are team guys, just the way they go about their business always speaks volumes.

“I thought John took note when they were going through the process. e didn’t want his name mentioned and I think that’s . . . I don’t know if a lot of people noticed that, but I think that’s a profound thing. I think that speaks volumes for who he is as a person. He wants to do a good job and it’s for the right reasons. He’s a competitor at the highest level, so I have great respect for that.”

Kawakami also asked Harbaugh about whether he believes quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still capable of being an NFL starter.

“There’s no doubt he can be an NFL starting quarterback,” Harbaugh said.

“I’m sure Kyle, the coaching staff there and John will meet on it, they’ll think about it, they’ll watch, much like we did when we got in there in 2011. And they’ll make the best decision they can for the team and the organization and it’ll play out the way it’s going to play out.”

Lynch's hirings of Peters, Mayhew left no room for Gamble

Lynch's hirings of Peters, Mayhew left no room for Gamble

During the month the 49ers had no general manager or head coach, Tom Gamble was the next-highest-ranking football official and was charge of the personnel department on an interim basis.

But CEO Jed York made it clear from the beginning Gamble, whom Trent Baalke promoted to assistant general manager just prior to the start of training camp last summer, would not be considered for a promotion to general manager.

John Lynch, with no front-office experience, was hired over Arizona’s Terry McDonough and Minnesota’s George Paton. Before Lynch’s introductory press conference, he hired two top lieutenants in the personnel department to usurp Gamble on the organization's power structure.

On Wednesday, the 49ers announced what had become inevitable: Gamble was leaving the organization.

“I must thank Jed, the York family and the entire 49ers organization for the wonderful memories they provided me and my family, but it is time I move on,” Gamble said in a statement. “This past month, I have had the pleasure of working alongside John Lynch and the talented staff he has assembled. The team is in capable hands and I wish them nothing but the best.”

Lynch’s first move as general manager was to hire Adam Peters away from the Denver Broncos to serve as 49ers vice president of player personnel.

Lynch worked alongside Peters when Lynch took part in Broncos meetings and prospect evaluations, which included a trip to the NFL scouting combine, prior to the 2013 draft.

“That month, month-and-a-half, I actually sat next to Adam every day,” Lynch told CSNBayArea.com. “Those are long meetings. I’d listen to him and we’d talk in between about players. I just saw way back then, he’s a guy who’s highly respected in the league. I firmly believe in two, three years, he would’ve been a GM. He was on that track, at least.”

During Lynch’s introductory press conference a week later, he announced the hiring of Martin Mayhew as senior personnel executive. Lynch and Mayhew were teammates in the secondary for Lynch’s first four NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Mayhew spent seven seasons as Detroit Lions general manager. Mayhew should be able to provide Lynch with valuable counsel as learns on the job after spending the past eight seasons as a TV analyst on FOX.

“Martin has sat in the seat as a general manager and his experience will play an integral role in helping us locate the type of football player we want representing this organization both on the field and in the community,” Lynch said.

Gamble recently completed his 29th NFL season and his 10th with the 49ers in two stints. After he was fired as Philadelphia Eagles vice president of personnel late in the 2014 season, and came back to the 49ers in the 2015 offseason.

While with the Eagles, Gamble was one of the few individuals in the front office who worked well with Chip Kelly. Gamble played an important role in speaking up for Kelly and bringing him to the 49ers last offseason.

Kelly and Baalke were fired after the 49ers' 2-14 season, and the 49ers promoted the ability to create a fresh start when a new coach and general manager. While the 49ers were expecting Gamble to remain with the organization through the draft, his spot with the organization was going to be tenuous with a new regime.

“He is a class act who has helped a great deal in this transition, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him,” Lynch said in a statement. “After working together over the last month, Tom and I agreed that it would be in both of our best interests for him to pursue other opportunities.”