|Nothing to see here, apparently. (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)|
Remember back in March, shortly after the Colts released Peyton Manning and quarterback-needy teams (perceived or otherwise) around the league were queuing up to court him? Of course you do. It's hard not to when the media breathlessly reported Manning's whereabouts and fans purchased "Please come to our team!" billboards.
Then there were the coaches who showed up at the personal workouts. Like, say, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who threw with Manning during one session. ESPN analyst and former 49ers quarterback Steve Young even talked about it.
But on Wednesday, Harbaugh, unsolicited, wanted to remind everyone that San Francisco never pursued Manning. Seriously.
“Oh one other thing: There's a perception out there and it's an erroneous perception that we were flirting with Peyton Manning,” Harbaugh said courtesy of the Bay Area News Group's Cam Inman. “I keep hearing it over and over. It's silly and it's untrue. It's phony. Even the perception that we were pursuing. We were evaluating. I've said all along that Alex Smith has been our quarterback. There's no scenario, other than Alex choosing to sign with another team, that we would consider him not as our quarterback.”
Harbaugh had been beating the "Smith's our QB" drum for months dating back to last summer, but the reality is this: whatever synonym the coach chooses to use, the 49ers had legitimate interest in Manning. Strangely, Harbaugh's fine with that -- "interest" but not "pursuit" -- admitting that "yeah, there was interest … we evaluated it and pursued it. Er, evaluated it and there were conversations. I'm not going to go into all the personal conversations."
Harbaugh went on to say that part of this process (or whatever we're now calling it) was to see if both Manning and Smith could be on the same roster (and don't forget about 2011 second-round pick Colin Kaepernick).
“Were we out there seeing and evaluating if we could have them both? Heck, yeah," Harbaugh said. "We evaluate and eliminate the possibility. For further evidence, we would not have given any player out there in free agency a sixth of our salary cap, and let six or seven of our own guys go.”
Oddly, as PFT.com's Josh Apler points out, Manning admitted that after he settled on the Broncos, calling Harbaugh with the news was "tough." Peculiar behavior for someone who wasn't being pursued by the 49ers.
We're unclear why Harbaugh even brings this up. Manning ended up in Denver, Smith eventually re-signed in San Francisco, and presumably, everybody's happy.
"Hopefully that sets the record straight," said the coach. "I don't want you to keep reporting the silliness and phoniness."
Harbaugh might have better luck with his message by aiming one of those Men in Black neuralyzers at the media.
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