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49ers join chase for Manning

Miami, Arizona out of running

Associated Press / March 17, 2012
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The stealthy 49ers are in the chase for Peyton Manning. The Dolphins and Cardinals are out. And the Broncos and Titans want to make sure the four-time NFL MVP is healthy.

Got all that?

After a brief lull, the pursuit of Manning sure got interesting in a hurry Friday.

The year’s top free agent, who has been rehabbing in North Carolina after a string of neck surgeries, threw the football at Duke’s athletic facilities for Hall of Fame QB turned Broncos executive John Elway, along with Denver coach John Fox.

The workout lasted a little under two hours, and when it was over Elway seemed convinced that Manning is still Manning. “He threw the ball great and looked very comfortable out there,’’ Elway wrote on his Twitter account. “Watching him throw today was the next step in this important process for our team and Peyton. It was a productive visit and went well.’’

Whether San Francisco executives and coaches feel the same way, they weren’t saying. But they also have shown interest in the man who led Indianapolis to a Super Bowl victory in 2007. A person familiar with the situation said that Manning worked out for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh Tuesday night at Duke.

As it became clear the 49ers were in the race, Miami and Arizona dropped out.

A person confirmed to the AP that Manning phoned the Miami Dolphins Thursday to advise them he’ll sign elsewhere. The team has now turned its attention to free agent quarterback Matt Flynn.

Flynn was scheduled to visit Miami by the weekend after concluding a visit with the Seahawks. Although the Dolphins made Manning their top offseason priority, Flynn had long been considered a potential fallback. He was a backup the past four years for Green Bay, where he worked with new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, who was previously the Packers’ offensive coordinator.

The Cardinals decided to pay quarterback Kevin Kolb the $7 million roster bonus he was due on Saturday, effectively ending their pursuit of Manning.

Arizona hosted Manning for about 6 1/2 hours at the team’s facility Sunday, but the team’s chances faded as the week progressed

The 49ers had been working to re-sign quarterback Alex Smith, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005 who made a comeback in 2011 under first-year coach and former NFL QB Harbaugh, and Smith has acknowledged he was happy with the three-year offer.

Raiders cut Wimbley

The Raiders released linebacker Kamerion Wimbley just one year into a $48 million, five-year deal in the latest cost-cutting move by the franchise under new general manager Reggie McKenzie. Wimbley’s departure means the Raiders are no longer on the hook for an additional $4.5 million of guaranteed money for the 2012 season. Oakland gave Wimbley the big contract last summer instead of allowing him to play on an $11.3 million franchise tender. He got paid $5 million in 2011 under the restructured deal and is still guaranteed an additional $6.5 million from the Raiders even after he signs with another team. The Raiders would have been on the hook for an additional $13 million in guaranteed money for the rest of the deal, which led to the decision to let him go. Wimbley was an effective pass rusher in his two seasons with the Raiders, finishing with 16 sacks . . . A person familiar with the deal said the Giants and punter Steve Weatherford have agreed to terms on a five-year deal worth $12.75 million. The contract includes a $3.25 signing bonus, more than the roughly $2.6 million Weatherford would have made if he signed his franchise tender. The Giants placed the tag on him March 5 . . . The Jets addressed a couple of their major needs in free agency, signing wide receiver Chaz Schilens and backup quarterback Drew Stanton.

Anderson pays visit

Free agent defensive end and former Patriot Mark Anderson, who had 10 sacks last season as a pass-rush specialist for New England, visited the Dolphins. Miami also announced it re-signed backup tight end Jeron Mastrud . . . Charlie Whitehurst is in and Billy Volek is out as Philip Rivers’s backup with the Chargers. Whitehurst agreed to a two-year contract to return to San Diego, and a short while later Volek was released. Whitehurst was San Diego’s third-string quarterback behind Rivers and Volek from 2006-2009 before being trade to Seattle . . . The Cardinals agreed to a five-year contract with Levi Brown just three days after he was released by the team in a salary-cap move. Brown was cut loose because he would count nearly $17 million on this year’s salary cap.

Marshall: Fresh start

After a rocky but productive start to his NFL career, Brandon Marshall is hoping for a long stay in Chicago, and he’s pledging to be a star on and off the field for the Bears. “Hopefully, this is not a pit stop,’’ said Marshall at an introductory news conference Friday. “Hopefully, this is where I end my career, and this is some place that I can call home. I am going to do everything I can to be an asset to this team and this community and prove to Chicago that I’m here to stay.’’ The Bears acquired Marshall from Miami Tuesday, sending two third-round draft picks to the Dolphins. But Marshall comes with a checkered history, including a nightclub incident just days ago. New York City police say a woman has filed a complaint alleging Marshall punched her in the face at a Manhattan nightclub over the weekend. He has not been charged in the incident . . . Free agent cornerback Cedric Griffin agreed to a one-year deal with the Redskins that could be worth as much as $2.5 million, according to the Washington Post . . . The 49ers signed fullback and special teams standout Rock Cartwright to a one-year contract . . . Six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk agreed to three-year contract with the Ravens . . . Free agent center Scott Wells is on his way out of Green Bay after agreeing to a contract with the Rams. No terms were disclosed . . . The Texans re-signed free agent center Chris Myers to a four-year deal.

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