49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has started to sit down and evaluate Alex Smith and the rest of the 49ers on film from last year.
The more Harbaugh watches, the more it sounds like Smith — an impending free agent — could return to the team.
“So excited, yeah, I’m going to say it, I’ve been studying Alex Smith and watching him and I believe that Alex Smith can be a winning quarterback in the National Football League,” Harbaugh said on Sports 1140 AM in Sacramento via Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “I’m excited to work with him, get to know him.”
Those comments are a dramatic departure from what we heard from the 49ers earlier in the offseason. G.M. Trent Baalke told Florio on PFT Live that the team’s future quarterback wasn’t presently on the roster. Harbaugh has previously been vague when talking about Smith. Not anymore.
“Very accurate passer,” Harbaugh said. “Very athletic. And a guy that has played and been durable.”
Smith has expressed doubt that he’d return to the team, but Harbaugh’s words indicate that the 49ers are open to bringing him back. San Francisco is starting from scratch at quarterback (again) and won’t eliminate Smith as a possible solution. (Again.)
It’s quite possible that Harbaugh sees Smith as a winning quarterback more than any other head coach out there.