After being spurned by Peyton Manning, the Dolphins had a brief, unproductive courtship with Matt Flynn, then turned their attention Sunday to Alex Smith, the San Francisco 49ers free agent.
This Former San quarterback Alex Smith has flown overnight from San Francisco to Miami, worked out for the Miami Dolphins, and is now in contract negotiations with the AFC East team. A stunning development that has been perpetuated by the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, the 49ers may be without a backup plan if Manning chooses to sign with the Denver Broncos or Tennessee Titans.
Earlier in the day, Matt Flynn, the former Green Bay Packers quarterback and backup to Aaron Rodgers, signed a multiyear deal with the Seattle Seahawks. After missing out on Flynn and being shunned by Manning, Plan C for the Dolphins was Smith. With contract negotiations already under way, it is a matter of time before Smith signs a "multiyear deal worth $8 million a year."
If Smith decides to sign with the Dolphins, the 49ers will definitely need to put all their eggs in one basket and try to woo Manning to San Francisco. While it's still uncertain as to which team is his likely destination, the 49ers do have an upper hand over the Broncos and Titans because of their position to win now. After signing wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, re-signing Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers, featuring stars on offense such as Frank Gore and Vernon Davis, and bringing back all 11 starters of their top-flight defense, San Francisco presents a favorable destination for the elite quarterback.
Despite the 49ers talent, Manning could still choose to sign with the Broncos or Titans for a variety of reasons. With Flynn now off the market and Smith possibly in Miami, there would be limited free agent options for the 49ers.
Since head coach Jim Harbaugh operates a West Coast offense, the 49ers could pursue Matt Hasselbeck, a veteran who is familiar with the system and would likely be released if Manning were to sign with Tennessee. After Hasselbeck, the list becomes quite bare with names such as Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, and even former 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia. If the 49ers do not choose any of the other free agent options, second-year Colin Kaepernick could suddenly find himself as the team's new starting quarterback.
By the time next season starts, plenty of teams will feature new quarterbacks under center. Thanks to Manning and two great rookie quarterbacks (Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III) in the NFL Draft, many teams have been involved in a risky game of quarterback swapping. For the 49ers, Smith's contract talks with the Dolphins only intensifies the need for Manning in red and gold.