It shouldn't be the most insulting label in describing an NFL quarterback.
With Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and Tom Brady flinging footballs all over the field in record-setting fashion, it's tempting to judge quarterbacks by the staggering yardage and touchdown passes they accumulate each season.
Last year, Brees topped Dan Marino's single-season mark for passing yards (5,084), a record that had stood since 1984. He was joined by Stafford and Tom Brady on the list of quarterbacks who topped the 5,000-yard mark and there are few signs this air assault has reached its peak.
But that brings us to San Francisco, where coach Jim Harbaugh has a different idea.
The 49ers have enjoyed great success since Harbaugh arrived, playing physical defense, generating turnovers and keeping mistakes to a minimum with Alex Smith under center.
"Alex understands the purpose of his job is to distribute the ball, execute the offense and help the team win,'' 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "He's got an innate feel for risk management on the fly.''
Smith has become masterful at managing the game, avoiding low-percentage throws while trusting his defense and ground attack to seize the day.
"Aggressive offenses are going to mean more points scored, but also more catastrophic mistakes which gives the other team a shorter field,'' said ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, a former Bucs quarterback who knows all about assuming a caretaker role.
After playing his first six seasons in Tampa with mixed results, Dilfer helped lead the 2000 Ravens to a Super Bowl championship run, going 7-1 in the regular season after replacing an ineffective Tony Banks.
That Baltimore team was powered by a sensational defense and rookie running back Jamal Lewis. After entering the playoffs as an AFC wild card team, the Ravens averaged only 18 pass attempts per game in the postseason.
If Dilfer was frustrated with his meager workload, he was smart enough to keep his mouth shut.
In last week's 16-10 triumph against Carolina, Josh Freeman of the Buccaneers had the look of a game manager as Tampa Bay relied on rookie back Doug Martin and a ball-control attack that kept Cam Newton off the field. As first-year head coach Greg Schiano explained, Freeman deftly executed the game plan.
"I think Josh did exactly what we needed for him to do for us to win,'' Schiano said to "The Blitz'' on Sirius XM radio. "He took care of the football and he managed the clock well. He really played winning football and for me, at the end of the day, that's all that matters.''
Some outstanding game managers have ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bob Griese, who earned eight Pro Bowl berths in 14 years with the Dolphins, finished with a 92-56-3 record as a starter, winning back-to-back championships after his 1971 Miami club fell to Dallas in the Super Bowl.
Griese never threw more than 22 touchdown passes in a season and averaged only 21 pass attempts per game for his career.
In Dallas, Troy Aikman helped the Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins within a four-year span in the early 1990s.
With career rushing king Emmitt Smith serving as the focal point of his offense, Aikman threw more than 19 touchdown passes only once in 12 NFL seasons. His career average of 7.0 yards per pass attempt is tied with journeymen like Jeff George and Brian Griese.
It's obvious that some quarterbacks aren't enamored with the "game manager'' designation.
"That term to me is a condescending term for quarterbacks,'' Rodgers said. "I don't think he (Alex Smith) is a game manager. I think he's a guy who takes care of the football and makes a lot of plays.''