No extra "evaluating" necessary:
Peyton Manning and Alex Smith both ended up in the right places for the 2012 season, if a few flashes and flips during Sunday's game in Denver were any measure.
Of course, it's about much more than what happened in the 49ers' 29-24 exhibition victory, since nothing in these games (other than health) matters all too much.
It's about those two former No. 1 overall picks, their styles, their personalities, and the entire construction of these two good franchises.
So ... Even though he looks a little funky in orange, Manning is better off starting over at 36 in Denver, where he can control everything and work himself into better physical shape at his own pace.
Manning wasn't throwing rockets Sunday -- more like changeups and cutters; but under some heat, he got the ball where it needed to be, completing 10 of his 12 attempts for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
And even though the 49ers chased Manning as a free agent last spring, they're just fine sticking with Smith, who fits the Harbaugh quarterback mode so ideally.
The 49ers offense has been up and down this preseason -- it's just preseason! -- but Smith was at his best throwing a perfect pass to Vernon Davis for a 44-yard touchdown Sunday.
Smith won't ever be as good as Peyton was in his prime, but Smith is better for the Harbaugh 49ers than Peyton would be now.
Really, most of the time I watched the two QBs
Easy conclusion: It would've been entertaining and possibly tremendous, but also probably too much of the Manic QB Ego thing all at once, with too much on the line for both men to ever back off.
It could've been too much testosterone--not in the Melky Cabrera way, but you know what I'm saying.
Peyton belongs in Denver, with a team that still has many things to put together and desperately needed QB credibility to move beyond the Tim Tebow experience.
Manning might do great things with the Broncos; there are great expectations there, but it also might crash. That's all understood and accepted; that's what you take on when you sign a QB who missed all of last season.
The 49ers, however, are built to eliminate every crash possibility out there, and it's a good way to build things.
Smith belongs with the 49ers, who don't need a season stalled by QB health worries and who run on a lower rpm than Manning is used to.
The 49ers are different: Most teams use the third exhibition game as a dress rehearsal, but Harbaugh doesn't.
Last year, the 49ers got smashed 30-7 by Houston in Candlestick in Week 3 of the preseason and somehow did just fine when the games mattered.
So here they are now, looking a little scattered on defense (first-team D has been giving up yards), not too explosive on offense (Randy Moss, hello?), and certainly more banged up than they'd prefer.
The 49ers might have some pass-protection issues, some defensive secondary issues, and they sure could use NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith and Brandon Jacobs back healthy by Week 1 in Green Bay.
But the quarterback is not their problem (unless maybe Indianapolis wants to give away Andrew Luck?). Just consider: What talented QB, other than Luck, could blend as seamlessly into the Harbaugh mindset as Smith has?
Maybe Manning could've, I don't know. Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have sneered at reports that the 49ers offered a large contract to Manning. Or maybe they're mostly sneering at the implication that Manning turned them down.
But everybody in the NFL knows that the 49ers wanted Manning and that he deeply considered signing with them -- hey, the 49ers were probably his best shot at another Super Bowl.
The 49ers theoretically were also planning to keep Smith as the backup to Manning in this scenario ... though I can't believe Smith would've stuck around for that.
No, the 49ers chased Manning because they thought he was an upgrade over Smith and that he could be the last piece for a championship run, and that's understandable.
I also think they were planning that Colin Kaepernick would be ready to go in 2013 (or even in the middle of this season) if Manning hit a wall.
However Harbaugh wants to describe it, they didn't end up with Manning, who chose Denver. The 49ers brought Smith back.
The Broncos got one of the greatest QBs of all-time. The 49ers kept the right guy, too.