Broncos meet with Peyton Manning

The San Francisco 49ers have emerged as a late contender in the

Peyton Manning sweepstakes on Friday, according to an ESPN

report.

According to ESPN, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive

coordinator Greg Roman watched Manning throw at Duke on Tuesday

night. They were impressed enough to send the team doctor to Duke

the next day to conduct a physical on Manning.

The Niners, who have been working diligently to extend

quarterback Alex Smith’s contract, could be a sleeper team to sign

Manning, who is planning to conduct a private workout for Broncos

brass on Friday.

Broncos executive vice president of football operations John

Elway and head coach John Fox boarded a flight bound for

Raleigh-Durham Airport, where they will take a first-hand look at

the four-time MVP on the nearby Duke University campus, according

to NFL Network.

The two reportedly were joined by Broncos general manager Brian

Xanders, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, quarterbacks coach Adam

Gase and some of the team’s medical personnel, who will be

interested to see how far Manning has come in his recovery from the

four neck surgeries that sidelined him for the entire 2011

season.

According to The Denver Post, the Broncos hope to bring Manning

back to Denver with them, offering the star quarterback a deal

worth roughly $60 million over five years, including a guaranteed

$30 million.

But Manning is expected to follow up the Denver workout by

conducting a similar session for the Tennessee Titans, NFL Network

reported. No date has been set for the Titans’ workout, according

to the report.

News of the private sessions came as multiple reports indicated

the Miami Dolphins were out of the race for the former Indianapolis

signal caller.

Multiple sources claimed Manning called the Dolphins personally

Thursday to confirm he would not be relocating to Florida,

according to the NFL Network. The Dolphins reportedly were already

seeking other options at quarterback, with plans to sit down with

Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn in the next day or so.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals — the only other team still

believed to be in the Manning hunt — face a difficult decision

Friday with a $7 million roster bonus looming that would see the

team retain quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Arizona has until 4:00pm ET to either lock up Kolb, who they

acquired last season from Philadelphia in exchange for defensive

back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick, or

decide to let him go.

Manning, meanwhile, will continue to evaluate his options as

Denver and Tennessee lead the pursuit of the 11-time Pro

Bowler.

Manning’s mentor, current Duke head coach David Cutcliffe,

issued his own vote of confidence for the rehabbing quarterback,

who turns 36 on March 24.

“It’s incredible how much progress he’s made in throwing the

football,” Cutcliffe told The Tennessean Thursday.

“He’s gotten his arm strength back, and his accuracy is there.

I’m not an NFL coach, of course, but I think I know what it takes

to complete passes in the NFL, and it’s clear that Peyton can make

all those throws.”

Manning is looking for his second NFL destination after spending

his entire 14-year career in Indianapolis.