Peyton Manning has Justin Smith and Aaron Lynch in his sights, not Brett Favre.
Chances are the five-time MVP will break Favre's NFL record for most career touchdown passes tonight, however, when the Denver Broncos (4-1) host the 49ers (4-2).
Manning has 506, two shy of Favre's mark, and he's averaged an NFL-best 2.89 TD throws per game since coming to Denver in 2012. Manning said he only wants to have more points than the 49ers do when it's all over.
“That's what I've concentrated on, trying to do whatever it takes to win,” he said.
Manning said he wouldn't mind seeing Ronnie Hillman run for four touchdowns against San Francisco. That would be a shocker, though, because the Broncos have just two running TDs this year to go with Manning's 15 TD passes.
“Always impressive,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh marveled. “Whenever he takes the field, he's just great all the time and that speaks volumes for the player that he is and continues to be. Just keeps doing it and doing it and doing it. Great. Great with a capital 'G' at the highest level.”
Last week, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan heaped similar praise upon Manning, calling him “the best offensive coordinator in the league. He just happens to be playing quarterback, and a Hall of Fame quarterback at that.”
Favre told The Associated Press he's thrilled Manning is about to roar right past him and maybe approach 600 TD tosses by the time he joins him in retirement. After all, Manning reached 500 in his 244th game, 49 fewer than it took Favre.
“I'm not surprised, as well as he's been playing for so many years,” Favre said.
Manning isn't the only QB great Favre admires in Denver. He said GM John Elway deserves plenty of credit not only for luring Manning to the Broncos but for surrounding him with a terrific supporting cast.
Tight end Julius Thomas leads the league with nine TD catches. Demaryius Thomas had a franchise-best 226-yard game two weeks ago. Emmanuel Sanders is averaging 95 yards and Wes Welker just became the most productive undrafted wide receiver in NFL history.
Favre compared this group to the one Manning had in Indy — Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Marcus Pollard — that combined to catch more than half (257) of Manning's TD passes.
“I think Peyton has that type of cast there in Denver,” Favre said. “Now, he won't play nearly as long there as he played with the Colts, but he does have an excellent, young cast. Who do you double-team? I mean, my goodness, I have no idea.”
If Manning doesn't get the record Sunday night, he'll go for it four nights later against the Chargers.