The San Francisco 49ers sent a strange message when they jumped into the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. They might as well have got a skywriter to tell everyone in the Bay Area that they don't think they are really as good as they looked on the way to the second-best record in the NFC last year.
Now, free agent quarterback Alex Smith, who seemed content to work out a new deal in San Francisco, is reportedly dallying with the Miami Dolphins -- no doubt, to hedge against the possibility that the 49ers sign Manning and probably to send a message back to the team that it is playing a very dangerous game.
That old saying -- If it ain't broke, don't fix it -- comes to mind, but it doesn't really apply to the NFL, where you can never afford to tread water and things can change in a hurry. Just ask the Ravens.
Still, the Niners have to be careful they don't end up with a broken-down superstar and spend next season watching Smith take another step toward elite status somewhere else.