49ers

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."

Carroll: 49ers' QB decision isn't factor in Seahawks' preparation

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Carroll: 49ers' QB decision isn't factor in Seahawks' preparation

SANTA CLARA – Quarterback C.J. Beathard is expected to make his fifth consecutive start for the 49ers on Sunday, but Seattle coach Pete Carroll said his team will be prepared to face Jimmy Garoppolo, too.

“It really isn’t a factor,” Carroll said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters on Wednesday. “We’re just preparing for the 49ers. They got a style of offense. They got really good players who do what they do. And whoever’s triggering it from the quarterback spot, we’re going to go play football.

“We’ve seen Jimmy play. We’ve seen how he’s mobile and the kind of athlete and competitor he is. But other than that, we just go play football. We can’t do anything about that.”

Beathard remained on the sideline when the clubs met Sept. 17 in Seattle. The Seahawks have defeated the 49ers seven consecutive times, including a 12-9 victory in Week 2 this season. Quarterback Brian Hoyer started the 49ers’ first six games of the season and rushed for just 7 yards during that time. Beathard has 115 yards rushing on 20 attempts in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

“He’s been mobile. He’s got a rushing average, you know,” Carroll said of Beathard. “He’s averaging 5-yards a carry and stuff. They’re incorporating him in the run game some that we have to be concerned about. That’s different than other quarterbacks at times. I’d think Jimmy can do the same stuff.

“He (Beathard) is getting more settled. You can see the offense growing. You can see Kyle able to expand and do more stuff. He’s an incredible offensive coordinator and play-caller that we’ve respected for a long time. I think they’re just grown and they’re getting more proficient at what they’re doing."

49ers GM Lynch: Colbert shows characteristics of 'big-time starter'

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AP

49ers GM Lynch: Colbert shows characteristics of 'big-time starter'

SANTA CLARA -- Just hours before John Lynch was announced as a Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist for the sixth time, he spoke glowingly about a young, promising safety.

Lynch was a nine-time Pro Bowl performer during his 15-year career. In his role as 49ers general manager, he saw a lot that he liked from seventh-round draft pick Adrian Colbert two weeks ago against the New York Giants.

Colbert, making his first career start, sustained a broken thumb early in the game. He still played every snap on defense, recorded four tackles and showed his range in the deep middle to break up two passes.

“That was a really, really good football game and he displayed some things in that game that are characteristics of a starter and a big-time starter,” Lynch said during a 45-minute session with reporters on Tuesday at Levi's Stadium.

The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on free safety Jimmie Ward, whom they appear to view as their starter for next season. But Colbert has a chance to figure prominently in their future, too.

“If he plays like he did last week, you consider a lot of things,” Lynch said.

Here are other things you need to know from what Lynch said on Tuesday:

SOLOMON THOMAS ON TRACK
The 49ers invested the No. 3 overall pick on Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. He appeared in eight games, with six starts, before missing the past two games with an MCL sprain.

Thomas has not been spectacular, recording 26 tackles and two sacks. But Lynch said he is pleased with Thomas’ development.

“I think some people are saying, 'The No. 3 pick, maybe perhaps should be a little more dynamic.' But his play has been solid," Lynch said. "We knew it would be a process. He's a young kid that I think, physically, he's going to grow in stature."

BODY MAKEOVER FOR JOSHUA GARNETT
Guard Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, did not distinguish himself during the offseason program or early in training camp. Then, he sustained a knee injury with a lengthy timetable for recovery.

His timetable would have enabled him to play this season. But the 49ers opted to take “the long-term view” and place him on season-ending injured reserve to put him in a better position to realize his potential upon his return.

But, first, that means Garnett had to change his body composition. Lynch said he challenged Garnett and the team’s strength and conditioning staff to put in the work to make Garnett stronger, more agile and in better condition to succeed in the 49ers’ zone-blocking scheme.

“We certainly hope he responds,” Lynch said.

CONTRACT TALKS ONGOING
Whether it’s Jimmy Garoppolo, Carlos Hyde, Dontae Johnson, Eric Reid, Daniel Kilgore, Aaron Lynch or others, the 49ers have been active in discussing the possibilities of contract extensions.

John Lynch declined to speak about which specific players the organization is trying to extend beyond this season – only to say there are ongoing talks.

“I will tell you there are players we’re talking to their representatives, but I’m going to get into who, when, why,” Lynch said.

BOOKEND TACKLES PART OF THE PLAN
The 49ers are allowed to enter into extension talks with Trent Brown after this season. Whether they are able to work out a long-term contract remains to be seen, but Lynch made no secret he hopes he can keep the tackles together into the future.

Left tackle Joe Staley, 33, appears to have at least a couple more season in him. He scored some big points with the organization with his willingness to return to action just two weeks after sustaining a broken eye socket.

“We love Joe Staley -- love the way he plays, think he’s a really good scheme fit for the offense we play,” Lynch said.

Lynch said he likes the idea of keeping Staley and Brown together for the foreseeable future.

“We feel there are a lot of places where we need to improve,” Lynch said. “And you’re always trying to improve, but those two guys are cornerstones for the next couple, few years.”

ARMSTEAD HAS 'BRIGHT FUTURE'
Defensive lineman Arik Armstead has not produced like a first-round draft pick. And the next time he takes the field for the 49ers, he will be entering his contract year.

Questioning Armstead’s fit for the 49ers’ defensive scheme is reasonable. But Lynch said he believes Armstead has a place with the organization.

“We’re real pleased,” Lynch said. “We think he’s a fit with what we are and who we are, going forward. We think he has a bright future with us.”

Armstead had his best game this season against Washington, a game in which he sustained a broken hand and required season-ending surgery.

“He put it all together,” Lynch said. “It was very encouraging and, at the same time, disappointing.”

ORGANIZATION STUDIES RASH OF INJURIES
The 49ers have 18 players on injured reserve with a variety of physical conditions that knocked them out of action from broken bones to torn ligaments and tendons.

“Some of those things are freak, but, yes, there has been an alarming amount,” Lynch said. “We’re going to study everything. That was part of what I was charged to do, evaluate every facet of the football part of this organization.”

There do not appear to be any obvious answers. Many teams around the league are also experiencing a rash of injuries to star players. On defense, the 49ers lost Armstread (broken hand), linebacker Malcolm Smith (torn pectoral tendon), and safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt (broken forearms) for the season.

“Some of it, broken forearms from two safeties and a broken thumb from a safety, I don’t know what the answer is there,” Lynch said.

“We’re going to take a deep dive – we already are – into why and if there are any common threads. We’re studying it hard.”