Grant and I are sitting here in the Cohn Zohn — the table in the family room at home — blogging our heads off about Peyton Manning and the Niners. There is still so much we don’t know. But, as Grant reminded me, we sure do know that Alex Smith caddied for Harbaugh the first day of the AT&T Pro Am Whosits in Pebble Beach. It was a bad look on Smith’s part — sycophantic.

If the reports are true that Harbaugh is interested in Manning, the caddie look looks even worse. And it means Harbaugh would act as if he’s close to Smith, a friend, and allow the caddie routine and then go behind his back for another QB.

This makes Harbaugh extremely cold-blooded. Is that bad? No. In his business personal feelings don’t matter. You need the best players. Bill Walsh was that way — cold. I actually applaud Harbaugh for what he’s doing and how he tried to keep it secret.

One other thing. Earlier this week, Jed York, speaking about Smith’s contract, said, “The ball’s in Alex’s court.” That may not have been the honest truth. It seems the ball has been in Harbaugh’s court the whole time.

Or here’s another interpretation. When Smith hesitated, the Niners said what the heck and got together with Manning.

Or here’s yet another interpretation. The Niners realize they must look interested in Manning — they would seem like dopes not to at least work him out. If they don’t get him, they can say they tried. They need to look eager right now with a new stadium in the offing.

Lots going on. This is fun.

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  1. RednGold1

    Now if the Niners have placed a monetary value on Manning and Manning will sign at that value you have an upgrade at the position. Business.

    March 16th, 2012 2:56 pm

  2. Brandon Conway

    I really don’t see it this way. Both men know it’s a business. Smith knew it last year when the 49ers went after Hasselbeck. Smith & Harbaugh can continue still be friendly no matter what happens. If Smith comes back, he would be fine. It was Manning, not Henne, they were looking at. I think he’d understand that. And if Smith goes somewhere else because SF signs Manning, then he’ll be glad he had the one year with Harbaugh because it helped him professionally and monetarily as he goes to antother team.

    In the end, either way, I doubt there’s bad blood at all.

    March 16th, 2012 3:16 pm

  3. Jonathan

    Here’s some wild, unsupported speculation–but it makes some sense to me: Smith and Manning’s agent is the same. The agent knows that the deal the 49ers offered Smith is a fair one–but he is having client control problems with Smith, as Smith does not agree. So he tells the 49ers to go work out Manning in the hopes that Smith will get nervous and come around to signing the contract the 49ers have offered.

    March 16th, 2012 3:21 pm

  4. Neal

    Smith hesitates on the football field and it looks like he does that in life off the football field too.

    March 16th, 2012 3:49 pm

  5. KauaiRobert

    Peyton Manning can caddie too, Lowell.

    March 16th, 2012 4:15 pm

  6. John

    I love it. Cold is what’s required. It would have been stupid not to at least take a look at a QB, that when healthy, is light years better than the current one.

    We’re here to win Super Bowls. Not make friends.

    March 16th, 2012 4:16 pm

  7. Mike

    I agree, Harbaugh is cold, and that’s good. However, he didn’t go behind Smith’s back. Smith and Manning have the same agent. Smith had to know it was happening.

    March 16th, 2012 4:21 pm

  8. Brandon Conway

    Besides, as Harbaugh put it last year, “Smith has armadillo skin. Not baby deer skin.” Smith has endured FAR worse than to see a team go after a first-balllot HOF QB (again: Hasselbeck last year).

    March 16th, 2012 4:22 pm

  9. Streetglide

    Jonathan speaks wisely…

    March 16th, 2012 4:32 pm

  10. Brodie2Washington

    I have been toying with the notion that the whole thing just a ploy… until I found out Harbaugh and Roman flew across the country on the very first day or free agency to see Manning workout, then kept the whole thing secret.

    I wonder how the agent for both Manning and Smith (Condon) is dealing with the whole conflict of interest thing. He must have informed both early in the process. If not, could there be legal trouble?

    March 16th, 2012 4:49 pm

  11. mike

    If the Niners sign Manning and Smith walks because his agent who also is Manning’s agent will not stand for stacking his clients and the 49ers cannot afford to have both on the payroll, Colin Kaepernick’s development as the #2 QB becomes more critical because of the fragility of Manning.

    March 16th, 2012 5:37 pm

  12. Stan

    Speaking of hearts-and because you haven’t mentioned “the trade” lately I have to put this here: My post on Monta’s infildelitys?..and how they related to the trade?– Bob Meyers minutes ago live on Comcast ” We have become a talented and HIGH CHARACTER team”..uhuh,what did I tell you all? What could Bob have been alluding too?

    I’m also sure the ORG. wishes he hadn’t said that, but as Monta would say ” At the end of the day,it is what it is!”

    March 16th, 2012 5:53 pm

  13. Mo

    +2 what Jonathan said. If there was real interest on Manning’s part, he would have scheduled a stop at San Fran during his trip to visit Broncos/Cardinals. Instead Harbaugh flies cross-country to Manning.

    March 16th, 2012 5:55 pm

  14. Peter

    CanNot really argue here, reasonable points all the way around. Would add one other option however, just like with Brandon Lloyd (and the Pats), what if Condon is using the Niners to up the price on Manning in exchange for accepting the 3 years for Smith? Nothing ever is what it seems with the new Niners and that is what makes them possibly the best organization now in the NFL.

    March 16th, 2012 6:03 pm

  15. Jim

    Bill Walsh is rolling in his grave. Bill cut veteran players before their time and then pleaded with them to retire so they would have a quality life after football.

    March 16th, 2012 6:31 pm

  16. PhD

    Objectively, with the money being relatively similar, San Francisco would appear to be the logical choice between the final three teams. Archie and Peyton obviously must know this.

    March 16th, 2012 10:18 pm

  17. Kathy

    OK just want to get this straight–last week you were slamming Harbaugh and the Niners for not going after Manning. And now you are slamming them because it makes them hardhearted?

    March 16th, 2012 10:26 pm

  18. Scott

    Another interpretation or angel might be…

    Since Tom Condon is the agent for both Peyton and Alex to hold off on signing until Peyton makes his decision. After that decision, then hit the free agent market and see how much, and if any, interest there is in Alex. If there is interest, Alex takes the best deal offered. If there is no interest, then Alex knows what the 49ers already offered him IS the best deal he can have.

    March 16th, 2012 10:45 pm

  19. ready ranger

    Lowell…you should know by now that the Yorks speak with forked tongues…imho…LOL…

    March 16th, 2012 11:24 pm

  20. CohnZohn

    Kathy, Read my post again. Pay attention. I praised them for being hardhearted.

    March 16th, 2012 11:42 pm

  21. Johnc

    When you say cold hearted you mean businesslike and professional. Walsh had a heart but he knew that he had to make cold hearted decisions for the sake of the team.
    I think that is the approach you take as a sports-writer. You stay neutral so that you can be objective and you try not to take sides. At least that is my interpretation.

    March 17th, 2012 12:43 am

  22. CohnZohn

    I agree.

    March 17th, 2012 9:45 am

  23. Dave T

    Ok, been a long time since I have been ehre, my apologies. My take: If the Niners were in fact able to land Manning AND he is healthy, they become instant top five favorites. Though even without Manning they are still heavily in the conversation. Your top teams in the NFL, based on last year and before the free agent season is really really going and the draft are: In the NFC: Niners, Packers, Saints, Giants (I would even put the Lions in the conversation to be fair). In the AFC: Patriots, Steelers, Ravens. The Texans were significantly hurt by loss of Williams. And we all know that the three teams I mentioned don’t seem to rebuild, they reload.

    So that is the present landscape as I see it. Much could change, but for now.

    March 17th, 2012 9:52 am

  24. NinerTico

    That’s just it, Mr. Cohen. You know you have a direct voice to the NinerNation populous. You have direct influence and you truly do not know Harbaugh to make such an accusation of “Cold Blooded”, but you took liberties nontheless. If anything we’ve learned about Harbaugh, is that he’s in your face about honesty. He has no qualms in minimizing the media for his own benefit. Since your run-in with Harbaugh, you seem to have this “can’t wait” attitude toward his failures. It’s a business. Both QBs are available. Who would you choose? I thought so. So let’s have a lil’ more forethought to what you want to write about. Still, great reading, but c’mon!!!

    March 17th, 2012 11:59 am

  25. Mo

    Objectively, with the money being relatively similar, San Francisco would appear to be the logical choice between the final three teams. Archie and Peyton obviously must know this.”

    It would seem prudent for you to prepare yourself for disappointment. PM will not play for an NFC team.

    March 17th, 2012 5:58 pm

  26. Jake

    It’s not being cold hearted if the team already offered Smith a contract that Alex chose not to sign. If Smith didn’t sign, then Harbaugh has an obligation to kick the tires on Manning.

    March 17th, 2012 8:43 pm

  27. Frank in Minnesota

    I tend to think that they actually were working with Smith, but as you said, he hesitated and they said ‘what the heck’…and they went out to improve team…when millions of dollars are stake one needs to what is best for ALL concerned.

    March 18th, 2012 10:16 am

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