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Kurt Warner thinks Peyton Manning wanted to stay in the AFC, but owed it to himself to explore all potential suitors.

So, even though he may have wanted to be a Denver Bronco all along, Manning still visited with Arizona and San Francisco, among others.

"I think you have to explore everything," Warner told Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo. "I think what he's looking for is where's that one team that gives me an advantage, where I feel there's a distinct advantage for me going in early on, or making a run back to the Super Bowl.

"I don't think there's any question that he did his due diligence with all of the teams."

Warner would know, as he himself was a free agent at different times in his career, including when he visited the 49ers after leading the Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII. The QB ultimately returned to Arizona for one more season, but owed it to himself and his family to see what else was out there.

As for Manning, Warner thinks every team the QB visited had something to offer, but the one that was most intriguing was the same squad that tried to lure Warner away from Arizona just a few years ago.

"I love the Cardinals, for my teammates and the coaches there, would have loved to have seen him come here, but when I looked at the picture with the Cardinals, and then Tennessee and Denver, I don't think any one of those teams blew you out of the water like a San Francisco," Warner said, noting that the Niners were just a QB away from being a Super Bowl contender. "When San Francisco jumped into the mix I became intrigued."

Warner may have been intrigued, but the rest of the NFC West was likely pretty nervous. After all, Manning leading an offense with that defense on the other side of the ball?

Goodbye, NFC West championship dreams.

Fortunately for the Cardinals, like Warner, Manning decided not to head to the Bay Area, leaving the 49ers trying to salvage an offseason by not losing former starter Alex Smith.

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