- Associated Press - Sunday, March 18, 2012

MIAMI (AP) - San Francisco 49ers free agent quarterback Alex Smith is meeting with the Miami Dolphins, which could affect the Peyton Manning sweepstakes.

The 49ers are among three finalists for Manning, along with the Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed to The Associated Press that Smith was meeting with the Dolphins. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team has not publicly discussed Sunday’s meeting.

The 49ers had been working to re-sign Smith, the No. 1 overall 2005 draft pick who enjoyed his best season in 2011 under first-year 49ers coach Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback. Smith and Manning have the same agent, Tom Condon.


The Dolphins‘ unexpected courtship of Smith came after they were spurned by Manning and then hosted former Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn for a weekend Saturday.

It was unclear whether the Dolphins expanded their quarterback search in a bid to pressure Flynn to sign soon. He visited the Seattle Seahawks earlier in the week.

Flynn left South Florida on Sunday morning, but a deal with the Dolphins remained a possibility, said his father, Alvin.

A second person told the AP the Dolphins were to host quarterback David Garrard on Monday.

Garrard, a starter for Jacksonville from 2005 to 2010, didn’t play last year. He was released five days before last year’s opener by the Jaguars, then underwent back surgery in October.

But it was Smith’s turn on Sunday

He landed at the Fort Lauderdale airport Sunday morning and arrived at the Dolphins complex at 11 a.m. EDT in a car driven by trainer Kevin O’Neill. New coach Joe Philbin, new offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and general manager Jeff Ireland arrived earlier.

Smith struggled early in his career but threw for 3,150 yards and 17 touchdowns with only five interceptions last season as San Francisco went 13-3 and made the NFC title game after an eight-year playoff drought. He orchestrated six comeback wins, four on the road.

Smith has been weighing a three-year offer from the 49ers. If he instead joins the Dolphins, he would be reunited with running back Reggie Bush. They were teammates at Helix Charter High School in La Mesa, Calif.

All were also on hand for Flynn’s 5 1/2-hour meeting Saturday.

Flynn was a backup the past four years for Green Bay, where his offensive coordinator was Joe Philbin, the Dolphins‘ new head coach. Flynn has only two career NFL starts, but in last year’s regular-season finale he set franchise records with 480 yards passing and six touchdowns to help the Packers beat Detroit 45-41.

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