Seahawks Sign Flynn; Dolphins Interview 49ers’ Smith

The Seahawks reached agreement Sunday with Matt Flynn, a career backup in Green Bay, on a three-year deal, bringing in one of the most wanted — yet unproven — free agents to try to solidify Seattle’s quarterback position.

The deal left the Dolphins, after being turned down by Peyton Manning and rejected after a brief courtship of Flynn, turning their attention to Alex Smith, the free agent who led the San Francisco 49ers to the playoffs last season. Smith left the Miami complex after a five-and-a-half-hour meeting Sunday.

The visit could affect the Manning sweepstakes because the 49ers are among three finalists for him, with the Denver Broncos and the Tennessee Titans.

The 49ers had been working to re-sign Smith but also went to North Carolina last Tuesday to watch Manning work out at Duke. Smith, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005, enjoyed his best season in 2011, under the first-year 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

Smith and Manning have the same agent, Tom Condon.

There is now much less uncertainty in Seattle. Flynn has been a reserve in Green Bay, stuck behind the All-Pro Aaron Rodgers — much the way Matt Hasselbeck was stuck behind Brett Favre before being acquired by Seattle in 2001.

When given an opportunity, Flynn has shined. His best performance was his last, when he threw for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns in a victory over Detroit in Green Bay’s regular-season finale.

That sealed Flynn as one of the top free-agent prospects this off-season. Terms of Flynn’s deal were not released, although the owner Paul Allen took to Twitter to congratulate General Manager John Schneider and Coach Pete Carroll on signing Flynn for three years. reported that Flynn’s deal was worth up to $24 million.

Flynn’s deal answers one of Seattle’s big off-season questions. The Seahawks have focused mostly on bringing back their own free agents, most notably running back Marshawn Lynch and defensive end Red Bryant.

The only quarterback with experience on the Seahawks’ roster is Tarvaris Jackson, who played through a pectoral injury for more than half of last season, winning admiration in the Seahawks’ locker room. But he never took firm hold of the job.

“We are really excited to bring Matt in here to compete with Tarvaris,” Carroll said.

The Dolphins were expected to conduct another quarterback interview Monday, with the veteran David Garrard.

After all of their shopping, it is possible the Dolphins will stick with the incumbent Matt Moore, although there are doubts that he is a franchise quarterback.

MANNINGHAM TO 49ERS The 49ers landed another wide receiver in a headline-making week for the team, agreeing to terms with the free agent Mario Manningham on a two-year contract Saturday night. Randy Moss joined the roster last Monday. The agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed that Manningham, the former Giants wideout, had reached a deal with the 49ers, who lost to the Giants in the N.F.C. title game.

Manningham had five receptions for 73 yards in the Giants’ 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots, including an over-the-shoulder 38-yard catch between two defenders on which he managed to stay inbounds to start the game-winning, 88-yard touchdown drive.

The 25-year-old Manningham had 39 catches for 523 yards and 4 touchdowns total last season in his fourth year with the Giants.

Manningham and Moss will join a receiving corps that includes Michael Crabtree, the 49ers’ 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft.

Dolphins Interview Philbin Again for Coaching Job

Philbin met with team owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland in New York City, where Ross has an office.

Philbin decided to remain in consideration despite his son’s recent drowning in a Wisconsin river. After spending a week away, Philbin rejoined the Packers on Sunday for their divisional playoff loss to the New York Giants.

“He’s a special, special human being,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday. “What Joe has gone through, and what his family has gone through, obviously tough is not the proper word. … His ability to come back meant a lot to all of us. It was not expected, it was not asked of him. But Joe’s a class act.”

Also scheduled for second interviews with Ross and Ireland in New York this week were Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Todd Bowles, the Dolphins’ interim coach for their final three games this season.

The three coaches are finalists for the job after top choice Jeff Fisher turned down the Dolphins last Friday to become coach of the St. Louis Rams.

Philbin completed his first interview in South Florida on Jan. 7.

“I think he would make an excellent head coach,” McCarthy said. “I’ve said that before.”

Philbin has been with Green Bay since 2003 and has been offensive coordinator since 2007, although McCarthy calls plays. The Packers have ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in yardage each of the past five seasons, including third in 2011.

McCoy completed his first interview with Miami on Monday. He won praise for adapting the offense at midseason when Tim Tebow became the starting quarterback, and the Broncos made an improbable run to the second round of the playoffs before losing Saturday at New England.

The Oakland Raiders also have received permission from Denver to interview McCoy, and they interviewed Bowles.

Bowles was assistant head coach and secondary coach before taking over the Dolphins when they fired Tony Sparano last month with three games to go in his fourth season as coach. Bowles became the sixth coach since 2004 for the Dolphins, who finished 6-10 and haven’t won a playoff game since 2000.

After being rejected by Fisher, Ross said the team planned to interview several more candidates. But they may want to move more quickly now that the Indianapolis Colts are looking for a coach. The Colts fired Jim Caldwell on Tuesday.

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AP Sports Writer Chris Jenkins in Green Bay, Wis., contributed to this report.

Tim Tebow Leads Denver Broncos Over Miami Dolphins

The Broncos’ coaching staff, which had made him the starter just two weeks ago, had so little confidence in him that through three quarters, he attempted just eight passes.

But with five minutes left and the Miami Dolphins playing prevent defense, Tebow turned into the player who inspires fans to erect billboards and opposing teams to honor him when he visits, rallying the Broncos to two touchdowns.

And when Denver lined up for the 2-point attempt that would send the game to overtime, it seemed that only the Dolphins had never seen highlights from Tebow’s Heisman Trophy-winning career. They had their defense spread across the field, leaving gaping holes between each player. Tebow took the snap and ran off right tackle, untouched, for the conversion.

From there, the result seemed a fait accompli. The , on Matt Prater’s 52-yard field goal, giving them their second victory of the season and sinking the Dolphins to 0-6.

After the game, to the delight of a few hundred University of Florida fans left on the field, Tebow came out of the locker room to greet some of his former college teammates. He had led them to a national championship on the same field, when his legend took flight. The Broncos got no greater clarity Sunday about who their quarterback of the future is.

But they do understand now the ineffable quality Tebow seems to summon when things appear bleakest, and why so many people clamor for Tebow to have a chance.

“There’s competitive greatness,” Denver Coach John Fox said. “Not everybody that plays in this league has it. It’s a great quality to have. We have a guy — No. 7 that I work with every day — he had it. He definitely had it.”

Comparing Tebow to the , who is Denver’s executive vice president for football operations, should delight the Broncos fans who had implored Fox to start Tebow after faltered in the first month of the season.

But even the way the Broncos played in overtime summed up the difficult and delicate decision that Fox and the Broncos face with Tebow. They have made him the starter now because they must find out if he can be their quarterback of the future.

The concerns that led them to make Orton the starter for opening day, however, seem to be lingering. In overtime, Tebow did not throw a pass, as the Broncos essentially reapplied the training wheels they had left on him for most of the game.

After the game, Fox said bluntly that if Tebow had completed more than three of his first eight passes, maybe Denver would have had him throw more, because the situation became dire.

On the game’s final drive, which started at the Dolphins’ 36 after Denver recovered a fumble, the Broncos had Tebow hand off three times, signaling that they would rather take their chances with a long field-goal attempt from a kicker who had missed two shorter tries earlier in the game.

Other than the victory, the game might have been the worst-case situation for the Broncos. They fear that the Tebow on display for most of the game is the real one, a better runner than passer, and that he may never be the accurate pocket passer they crave. Broncos coaches were clearly spooked when, on the Broncos’ first drive of the game, they used something resembling the spread option that Tebow ran to such great success in college.

But on his first pass, under pressure, he was nearly intercepted. After that, the Broncos (2-4) seemed to travel back to the 1970s, calling for handoff after handoff.

In the first three quarters, Tebow completed 3 of 8 passes for 24 yards and was sacked four times. He looked so bad that it was reasonable to wonder if the Broncos would give him another start.

“As a football player, as an athlete, you can’t lose confidence in yourself — or you’ve lost already,” Tebow said.

In the fourth quarter, he was 10 of 19 for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns, and there is no way coaches can ignore his ability to steer a team to victory even if the road there is sometimes ugly. So the Tebow experiment will live on, charming fans, confusing coaches and making everyone else wonder if there might be a place for a very different kind of N.F.L. quarterback.

“I’ve just got to play better in the first three quarters,” Tebow said, “so we don’t have to make that comeback.”

The Broncos would love for it to be that easy.