We've got an ongoing saga in San Francisco that just made the free agency period a whole lot more interesting for the 49ers. That saga pertains to quarterback Peyton Manning and the fact that the 49ers are in pursuit of his services. You'll hear many things from many people, with ranging opinions on the actual validity of their pursuit, the intensity of said pursuit, and how likely or unlikely it may be for said pursuit to be successful.
This writer agrees with some and disagrees with a lot more, but let's get to the simple point: I doubt Manning is coming to San Francisco and I believe Alex Smith will be under contract and playing for the 49ers in 2012. But there are some other opinions out there, that are not necessarily related to the plausibility of things - opinions that are definitely worth highlighting. One of those comes from Matt Barrows, 49ers beat writer for the Sacramento Bee.
Barrows thinks that there's no way that Smith comes out of this who saga, regardless how it ends, "unscathed." He suggests that there's "trouble in paradise," and says that Smith's stature in the organization is diminished by the Manning news.
It's a respectable opinion, noteworthy because Barrows himself is respectable and a great asset on the 49ers beat. But it's one I disagree with entirely. Let's take a look at a couple things here. For one, if the 49ers are in pursuit of Manning because Smith isn't budging on his numbers and they've decided they can no longer negotiate (as per Jed York suggesting that the ball is in Smith's court on Monday), that's not something rare in the NFL, or any sport. That's just simple business, and Smith is far from the egomaniac who will be too hurt to move forward.
Nobody's imagination could have led them to thinking that Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers' desire to retain Smith (along with all of their buttery words and ass-kissing during the lockout) would actually equate to signing a blank far before push could ever come to shove. Players think they're more valuable than they are all the time.
For two, regardless of Smith negotiations, it's Peyton Manning. This isn't Mark Sanchez and this isn't Jay Cutler we're talking about - Smith is far more mature than the both of them. He's not going to cry about the fact that the 49ers are interested in one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. And it's not even similar to a situation in which a team "had" it's quarterback and then explored upgrades. Smith wasn't under contract because he didn't come to terms with the 49ers.
I guess my main point is that Smith is a smart guy, and a very reasonable guy. Before the lockout, he was saying there were no chances of him coming back to San Francisco. If he has yet to actually get close to divorcing the 49ers after all they've been through, he's not going to because they tried to sign Peyton Manning. He is not, by any stretch of the imagination, weakened. In my opinion.