Had the San Francisco 49ers ended up winning the Peyton Manning Sweepstakes, they would have worn the crown of the biggest winner in free agency. Between the questionable signing of WR Randy Moss and the good signing of WR Mario Manningham, they already improved their receiving corps for 2012, adding those two to WR Michael Crabtree and TE Vernon Davis. The addition of a healthy Peyton Manning would have improved their passing game by leaps and bounds, possibly enough to make them favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVII.
However, Manning has decided to sign elsewhere, with the Denver Broncos. Now, there is a distinct possibility that the 49ers might be left with a mess that could include not only not Manning, but not Alex Smith as well. Smith has to feel like the ugly sister in all of this drama, and while he has taken the high road of not commenting on his disappointment, he is exploring his options in the event he is left without a team. Smith visiting the Miami Dolphins and will look at other teams in need of an upgrade a QB.
If Smith receives an offer from the Dolphins that is too good to pass up, San Francisco could go from the possibility of the best QB of the era to having to consider starting unproven 2nd year QB Colin Kaepernick this coming season. That would more than likely drop them from Super Bowl contender to pretender overnight.
The most likely scenario is that Smith will not jump the gun and sign anywhere until the chips fall and then the dominoes will fall in place after that. Expect the 49ers will quickly turn back to Alex and this might end up giving Smith a bit more leverage to up his value with a better contract that perhaps he would have gotten before this soap opera began.