49ers look like serious player in Manning pursuit

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The NFL coach of the year last season, Harbaugh has to believe he’ll have no problem coaching a veteran quarterback like Manning. The former Colt is among the greatest ever to play with 54,828 yards passing, 4,682 completions and 399 touchdown passes.

“He’s a Hall of Famer, first ballot, that’s all I got to say,” Gore said of Manning. “He’s one of the best ever to play the game. I’m going to sit back and let them do what they think is best.”

If winning is more of a priority for Manning than a big payday, the 49ers have put things in place over the past week. They signed Moss to a one-year deal, then brought back Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers on a $31.3 million, four-year contract to give San Francisco 11 returning starters on Vic Fangio’s talented defense. The 49ers then agreed to terms on a two-year contract with former Giants wideout Mario Manningham late Saturday.

“I know coach Harbaugh and Trent Baalke feel good about what they’re doing,” Gore said. “They know what they’re doing.”

Perhaps all of that is enough to attract Manning, despite the thought he would prefer to stay in the AFC and not have to regularly face off with his younger brother, Eli.

This year marks Manning’s 15th in the NFL _ the same number of seasons Harbaugh spent in the league with the Bears, Colts, Ravens, Chargers and Panthers. A first-round draft pick taken 26th overall by Chicago in 1987, Harbaugh completed 2,305 of 3,918 passes for 26,288 career yards and 129 touchdowns in the NFL. He also ran for 18 TDs.

Elway, of course, also has quite the pedigree.

Perhaps Elway’s pursuit of Manning might mean he doesn’t have faith in Tim Tebow as the Broncos’ QB for the future. Denver squeaked into the playoffs as AFC West champions on the final day of the regular season last year.

Titans owner Bud Adams declared earlier this month he wanted Manning and considers him the missing piece to a championship team. That might not sit too well with Matt Hasselbeck, who signed to a three-year contract last July with Tennessee.

The pursuit of Manning has kept the Titans from addressing their defensive line early in free agency, one of their top needs. Mario Williams signed with Buffalo, John Abraham re-signed with Atlanta and Jason Jones left Tennessee for Seattle.

Other teams also might be behind in building their rosters because of the chase for No. 18.

The Dolphins and Arizona fell out of the running, and the Cardinals are moving ahead with quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Gore, who spends his offseason in Miami each year, isn’t going to begin to guess what might happen next in the Manning story _ and what it might mean for him next season.

“I don’t know, man,” he said. “I don’t know.”

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