By Frank Luna

Could this be a dream come true for 49er fans or a crafty power play by Harbaugh and company to keep four-time MVP Payton Manning away from the NFC West?

Niners coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman flew out to Durham, NC to watch Manning throw a few passes. All this conveniently happened before Peyton visited the Miami Dolphins and just before the Arizona Cardinals had to commit to bonus money for QB Kevin Kolb.

Suddenly, the Dolphins appear out of the Manning sweepstakes and the Cardinals have paid Kolb $7 million to stay, effectively ending their run at Peyton. This leaves two AFC teams: Denver and Tennessee still in the running, and the 49ers the sole NFC party.

If Manning really wants a chance at more rings than Eli, the Niners should be the obvious choice, but that would mean traveling through his brother to get to the Super Bowl. Peyton could also be more comfortable in the AFC where he’s played his entire professional career. Still, San Francisco’s interest may certainly be genuine. After all, they haven’t signed Alex Smith even thought Harbaugh has repeatedly expressed his commitment to him.

Of course, Smith’s agent might be a little busy right now with another high-profile client. You guessed it, Peyton Manning. Talk about a power play.


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