Peyton Manning or Colin Kaepernick? Or, to put in another way, an 18 million dollar quarterback or a eight hundred-thousand dollar quarterback? That is the big question when considering whether or not the San Francisco
Forty-Niners would be better off if they had signed Manning two off seasons ago. For the sake of this argument the assumption is that both would not be on the team. So if it’s one or the other, who would Jim Harbaugh rather have?
If the choice was simply about the better quarterback then Peyton would be the obvious answer. So far this season Manning has thrown 20 touchdowns, one interception, almost 2,000 yards and has not had a QBR score lower than 83.6 through five games. QBR scores measure a quarterbacks performance, and 80 is in superstar territory. Oh, and
that low score came in a game in which he threw seven touchdowns. Manning is simply playing at an unbelievable level right now, he is currently running one of the best offenses in sports history. To be fair, he does have a good offensive line and a great receiving corps. But Manning has always made his teammates better, so there should be no asterisk on what he has accomplished this year.
Kaepernick on the other hand, has had a rough start to the year so far. He was sensational in his first game of the season, but since then his numbers have been pedestrian at best. The game against the Seattle Seahawks was the worst of his young career, and the next game against the Indianapolis Colts could be considered his second worst. So far this year hasn’t panned out the way his first ten games as a pro did. The electrifying plays are not happening nearly as
frequently this year, and the read option has been non existent. Kaepernick’s running ability is one of his greatest strengths, yet this season he has been running significantly less. Does this diminish Kaepernick’s value? Perhaps in the short term, as he becomes a more complete quarterback. Long term though it increases his value as he will take less hits. Manning has shown that a quarterback can play at a high level late into his career as long as he limits the
amount of hits he takes.
What Manning provides is simply incalculable. Off the field, his leadership, poise, intensity and work ethic are all part of his success. On the field, he gets the ball out as quickly as anyone, still has an extremely accurate arm, and he constantly calls audibles to confuse the defense. Right now Manning is playing as well as any quarterback has ever played, his command of the offense is unbelievable, and it’s amazing to consider he is doing all this at the age of 37. In fact Manning’s only downside comes from the fact that he is that old. He may look like he has another ten years left but he doesn’t. His contract will run out in three years, and I expect him to retire a season or two after that. So while Manning would give the Niners a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl title in each of the next three seasons, he would also leave them with a hole at the position when he retires. Instead, the Niners are set up for the next ten years at least with Kaepernick at the position.
Another important part of the equation is that Kaepernick makes roughly 17 million dollars less than Manning. This is important because it allows the Niners to get players such as Anquan Boldin due to their excess cap space. The Niners offense without Boldin would be painful to watch, and it’s interesting to weigh a Niners O with Peyton and no receivers versus a Niners O with Kaepernick and Boldin. Which one would be more productive? It’s hard to say, Manning makes everyone around him better, but the Niners supporting cast has been so poor that it’s legitimate to question whether Manning could make these guys that much better. Taking Kaepernick over Manning would place an emphasis on the future, while taking Manning over Kaepernick would put the Niners in win right now mode. It’s a matter
of preference when choosing on over the other, but in most sports the smart thing is to take the future over the present. The future allows for mistakes and a correction of mistakes, but the present puts it all on the line. I think most SF fans would take Manning right now over Kaepernick later, but this is a young team that got extremely
close to winning the Super Bowl last year without Manning. With Kaepernick the teams best days are ahead of them.