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Cohn: 49ers serious about Super Bowl? Get Manning

  • Lowell Cohn writes that the 49ers should try to sign Peyton Manning, a future Hall of Fame quarterback. (NAN Y HUG / Associated Press)

If the 49ers are serious about winning the Super Bowl, they should move heaven and earth to sign Peyton Manning — if Manning is healthy. Sure, that is a big “if,” but it's easy enough to gauge Manning's game readiness.

Former Press Democrat sportswriter Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea is reporting the Niners have no interest in signing Manning — they are working on a multiyear contract with incumbent quarterback Alex Smith.

The conclusion is painfully obvious: The 49ers are not serious about winning the Super Bowl.

What a shame.

What a rip-off.

What a collective failure of nerve.

Let's be real clear about this. Manning, who will be 36 later this month, is one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever lived. He is a certain Hall of Famer.

Smith is most definitely not one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever lived. He never will be one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever lived. He is a pretty good quarterback who always will remain a pretty good quarterback — nothing more. On the other hand, he's a very nice guy.

Why do the 49ers need Manning?

They have a championship-caliber defense but their offense is not championship-caliber. They need an offense to complement the defense. It's more than that — they owe their defense a worthy offense.

Smith is holding back the 49ers' offense — he is their lack and their limit. They need a better quarterback. They have a chance to get a better quarterback. Get Manning.

Smith is reluctant to make high-risk/high-reward throws, maybe because he's not good at them. He checks down all the time to safe, unimportant passes. He is the master of three-and-out. Manning can complete high-risk/high-reward throws 24/7. And he loves the challenge. A great team needs a quarterback who thrives by living on the edge.

The 49ers play a safety-first offense, partly because of Smith, partly because they lack deep-threat wide receivers — a problem they say they will rectify. With Manning, they could be bombs away. They need to be bombs away.

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