San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on Wednesday said that the idea the team pursued Peyton Manning this offseason is "erroneous" and "phony," according to a report by The Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows.
"It's an erroneous perception that we were flirting with Peyton Manning. I keep hearing that over and over again," Harbaugh said. "It's silly, and it's untrue. It's phony. Even the perception that we were pursuing him ... we were evaluating him.
"I've said all along, Alex Smith has been our quarterback. There's been no scenario, other than Alex choosing to sign with another team, that we would have considered him not as our quarterback." ...
"Now, were we out there seeing, evaluating if we could have them both? Heck ya. You evaluate that, you eliminate that."
San Francisco was widely reported to be a finalist for the quarterback, along with the Tennessee Titans and the Denver Broncos. Barrows reports a source said Manning did reach out to the 49ers first, and the team then began what Harbaugh called an "evaluation."
Harbaugh confirmed that the team didn't pull out of the running until Manning had picked the Broncos.
Smith, the former No. 1 overall pick who led the 49ers within a game of the Super Bowl, was a free agent in the offseason. He remained unsigned and visited with the Miami Dolphins before Manning made up his mind. Smith ultimately signed a three-year, $24-million deal to stay with San Francisco.
"Alex Smith is our quarterback, was our quarterback and we had every intention of bringing him back," Harbaugh said. "There would be no circumstance that we would have let Alex Smith go."