Jim Harbaugh on Alex Smith: “I’m excited to work with him”

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.

49 responses to “Jim Harbaugh on Alex Smith: “I’m excited to work with him”

  1. Harbaugh is a genius…..He’s excited to work with him, so they can go 1-15, and draft Andrew Luck after next season….Pure genius….

  2. well if they just let him go they get nothing for him.

    if they talk nice of him and sign him they can trade him for something.

    the guy hasnt been blessesd with good head or position coaching. but even iron mike believed he was more polished than every other qb he had.

    i think the biggest issue is that the niners have had to overachieve to get all the records they have had the last 8 years. they arent that good talent-wise. they could put an all star at qb and get 1 more win.

    they need more talent all around.

  3. Well, he will have a good chance at getting his boy Luck in next year’s draft if he plans on going into this year with Smith as his starter.

  4. Harbaugh is always going to accentuate the positive in public. Most likely this sort of public comment is designed to obscure their draft plans.

  5. This news almost makes me feel sorry for 49ers fans — A rookie head coach who for all we know could turn out to be a good coach or he could turn out to suck — But we know for sure that he’s excited to work with Alex Smith — All I can say is I’m sure glad Rex Ryan wasn’t too excited to work with the incumbent QB Kellen Clemens — I think if I was a 49rs fan I’d have that weird feeling in the pit of my stomach with this one

  6. He probably watched film on the incoming QBs to the draft and realized he’s better off with what he’s got.

    Smith was actually decent under Norv Turner as his O Coordinator. It could happen under Harbaugh. I won’t be holding my breath tho.

  7. pretty sure people are reading too much into this thing. first off, this was said on a Grant Napear radio interview. Napear is great at asking tough questions. what was Harbaugh supposed to say? “that guy is terrible?” hes going to compliment no matter what because its the classy and strategically the best way to answer the question. id say there is a 20% Alex re-signs with SF. he is better than most FA QBs so he must be considered. not that he is very good, of course. i would be shocked if SF didnt trade or sign another QB and draft 1 in the first 3 rounds with or without Alex Smith.

    im a big Alex criticizer but he does have some ability. his problem is between the ears.

  8. Smith looked pretty good under Norv Turner. The poor bastard has had a different OC almost every year. I think he really could be a good QB in the west coast offense. I think he should be given a fair shot.

  9. The biggest problem with the 49ers has been continuity.

    How many offensive systems has Smith had to play in since being drafted? It seems like four or five … which is a recipe for disaster.

    Aaron Rodgers in contrast … has basically been in once system since coming to Green Bay.

    This makes a HUGE difference. If Harbaugh remains the coach for a number of years, things will settle down.

  10. we’ll see who he brings in for a back-up! then let the competion begin! couple of interceptions will change his mind, don’t grab the face mask !!!

  11. As a Seahawks, I’m so excited to hear Harbaugh start sounding like Singletary. “Alex Smith is bestest and most awesomest QB in the NFC West.” MWAHAHAHAHAHA! Even Max Hall is getting a kick outta this!

  12. I still don’t buy him staying, but if he does, the 49ers should give him a 1 year deal.

    He is NOT the QB of the future, but keeping him through a non-CBA offseason isn’t a bad idea because of uncertainty.

  13. how many 49ers fans who want Alex Smith to be gone, … say in the next breath that the 49ers should trade for Kevin Kolb from the Eagles? IF I’m Harbaugh, I’d rather work w/Smith, than trade for Kolb, who’s a mediocre QB, at best.

  14. The 49er’s are talented but as long as Smith is under center then that’s 1 less team my Rams have to worry about in our division

  15. Here we go again. Every year the 49ers insist that Alex Smith will become an elite NFL quarterback, but then play starts and everyone realizes it’s not happening.

    Smith has a career 57.1% completion percentage, 6.21 YPA and a 72.1 rating. If that’s Harbaugh’s definition of a “very accurate passer” then I’d be wondering if he drank the Kool-Aid already.

  16. I think what this realistically means is that there are no good free agent options at QB, and if the 49ers feel they need to trade for one, they aren’t going to say “OMG WE ARE SO DESPERATE, WE’LL DO ANYTHING FOR A QB.”

    I’m guessing their plan is to try and get a QB via trade, and if that fails, they will retain Smith. Either way, despite the Luck comments people have been throwing out here, I think this means that the 49ers are planing on drafting a QB to sit under Smith or whoever they trade for.

  17. goodjet says:
    Jan 30, 2011 11:16 AM
    This news almost makes me feel sorry for 49ers fans — A rookie head coach who for all we know could turn out to be a good coach or he could turn out to suck — But we know for sure that he’s excited to work with Alex Smith — All I can say is I’m sure glad Rex Ryan wasn’t too excited to work with the incumbent QB Kellen Clemens — I think if I was a 49rs fan I’d have that weird feeling in the pit of my stomach with this one
    ———
    Not that I disagree but Mark Sanchez is a huge liability and is going to be a bust.

  18. Was he looking at singletary’s film or something? i think he said that alex is “very accurate” the only accuracy i’ve seen off of smith is when he throws down to the check down and even that not always is on strides.

  19. deanvernonwormer says:
    Jan 30, 2011 9:59 AM
    If Smith is only half as good as Sanchez then he will be successful.

    That Comment above has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, I didn’t know there were so many people who knew nothing about football.

    If Sanchez was half as good as Alex Smith the Jets would win the Super Bowl every year.

    I am shocked at how little the general public knows about judging a skill set for a quarterback!

  20. I think this is more of a case of Harbaugh looking at what’s out there and realizing at least with A. Smith, 49ers fans won’t expect miracles.

    Consider this, Smith had a rating last year of 82.1.

    Kevin Kolb’s rating last year was 76.1

    Carson Palmer’s rating was 82.4 (hardly the kind of improvement 49ers fans are looking for).

    Matt Flynn’s rating was 82.5 (he only started two games so it’s hard to judge, but still, statistically pretty much the same as A. Smith.

    Those are just the QBs that have been mentioned as possibilities. But also consider this when considering Smith.

    Sam Bradford had a rating of 76.5 (and was widely seen as a huge success).

    Shaun Hill had a rating of 81.3 (a QB that many people were saying we should have kept instead of Smith despite the fact that statistically he was slightly worse and the Lions went 6-10… just like the 49ers).

    Mark Sanchez had a rating of 75.3, went to the conference championshiop (on the back of his defense obviously, but in the Jets case Smith would have been an upgrade).

    Matt Hasselbeck had a rating of 73.2, made it to the second round of the playoffs.

    The point isn’t that Smith is a great QB, he isn’t. The point is there really isn’t anything better out there. What’s more there’s little upside for Harbaugh to bring in someone like Carson Palmer who statistically is likely to be pretty much the same as Smith but will raise expectations to an unreasonable level. And there’s no one in the draft who looks any better, certainly not anyone who can start right away.

    I do feel kinda sorry for Smith though, most 9ers fans hate him and that’s probably not going to change.

  21. delaney37,

    Panthers wouldn’t of passed him up. The owner JR even called Luck after he announced he was returning to Stanford. San Fran wouldn’t of had a chance to get Luck.

    If Luck came out this year, he would be in a Panther uniform.

  22. Don’t know what to make of this? I guess with a possible NFL strike ahead, might as well sign him before David Carr is our only QB! We’ll draft a rookie QB to mold as well.

  23. Jim Jim Jim – you’re playing with fire dude. We know you want to prove how much better you are than your predecessors but Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary both said the same thing about Alex and look where it got them. He’s a coach killer.

  24. Alex is gonna walk. PR talk by Harbaugh. BUT let’s say in a fantasy world Alex does stay. Harbaugh turns him into a dependable starter in the nfl who ranks in the upper 1/3rd of qbs in the league then this will be one of the better feel good stories in a while.

  25. thenewenglandpatriots12 says: Jan 30, 2011 3:30 PM

    Reading this story I can’t see the 49ers doing well ever again.

    ======================================
    for 30 years we used to think that the patriots would never be good. i guess they are pretty good now eh? times change bud… we know this by experience.

  26. First time in couple years that im actually excited to have Alex smith be our starting qb. Hey Alex the last thing you can do for us is to go 0-16 then call it a career knowing you finally done somethig good in exchange for your 50 mills. Hello adrew luck!

  27. Since day one, I have been on Alex’s bandwagon, and until he retires from the NFL I will always stand behind him. He was feed to the wolves, how many different offensive cordinators? How many head coaches? How many different playbooks, systems? Seriously, everyone is so quick to judge Alex by what others say or think. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this kid has so much potential and literal skill that its a travesty what he’s going/been through. He’s only 26, going on 27 in May… He’s going to be in his 7th year, with an overall passing rating at 85.7. Only playing in 54 games, given injury and all, that’s pretty damn good. Though his TD/INT ratio, 51/53, is horrible, he has talent. He’s smart, knows how to deal with the ignorance of the 49er nation and still shows poise and everything in the pocket. He will always be, in my eyes, the 49ers QB of the future. Just remember… how bad did Steve Young start off before that Hall of Famer was any good? (Tho traded to a new team… Alex Smith is starting off yet again with a clean slate.) So give the kid a break… if he’s back (which I’m hoping he is) he will prove to everyone what he really is made of. I know, well hopefully know, Harbaugh won’t pull a Singletary and start with one QB, go to another down the line, unless injuried. I have faith in Harbaugh, I have faith in Alex, & in the 49ers. And that… is what the 49er Faith is all about!

  28. If Smith is only half as good as Sanchez then he will be successful.

    ___________________________________

    After reading this comment, I finally decided to sign up!

    Sanchez seriously. Have you checked the stats? clearly you didn’t. In 11 Games Alex did what Sanchez did. Also the Jets have 2 or 3 1st round WRs compared to our 1.

    I’d keep Alex as a Back-Up and cut David Carr. Why? Well he’s 26, He knows the city, so if we draft a QB, he’s got knowledge of the city and so forth. He has game experience. He has all the upside we need in a Back-Up QB. If the Niners decide to go Veteran, than Alex is a Solid #2 and If we draft, then we can be a Teacher/Mentor.

    So i say, keep him, he wouldn’t cost much and Harbaugh can work with him. Hey and if it doesn’t pan out, sign him and trade him and get a draft pick.

  29. Its time for Alex Smith to get a fresh start, and not be with the 49ers. Although I believe that he may be a better QB than most of whos going to be availble by free agent, and with the top 4-5 QBS out of the draft with question marks regarding if there NFL ready now.
    Still the 49er fans patience has run out with this guy !! If back with the team he would be under immense pressure from the media as well.
    He has taken more than his share of the blame for the state that the franchise is currently in. I personally wish him the best , and think Alex Smith will be what Harbaugh says. Just not in SF!!!

  30. ninerdynasty says:
    for 30 years we used to think that the patriots would never be good. i guess they are pretty good now eh? times change bud… we know this by experience.
    ——————————————————–
    What 30 years are you talking about, jacka$$?

    Sure, the Pats sucked in the 60’s, but sandwiched around some crappy years they had a damn good team in the mid-late 70’s, they went to a Super Bowl in the mid 80’s, and again – under Parcells – in the mid 90’s, before breaking out big-time after 2000.

    There are plenty of teams that didn’t SNIFF a Super Bowl in all that time

    *looks at Cleveland, Jets*

  31. Keeping Alex around for a one year or 2 year contract might not be such a bad idea. This years QBs in the draft are nothing special. We could pick up a proven starter to compete with Alex in free agency and trade up if we do well this year for a better pick in 2012. Harbaugh seems like an intelligent guy and I trust him.

  32. As a life-long 49ers fan I just have to say it…DAMMITTTT!!!!

    I don’t care if it’s the safe move going into the fiasco that will inevitably be this offseason. Enough is enough. We’ve been down this road before. And I, for one, am tired of allowing a bit of hope to creep in only to be knocked over by Alex Smith’s thoroughly mediocre quarterbacking. With York and Baalke running the team into the ground, I had hoped Harbaugh would be the voice of reason. Nope.

    I’m starting to sound like a fatalistic Cleveland fan…and I don’t like it!

  33. richm2256 says: Jan 30, 2011 7:59 PM

    ninerdynasty says:
    for 30 years we used to think that the patriots would never be good. i guess they are pretty good now eh? times change bud… we know this by experience.
    ——————————————————–
    What 30 years are you talking about, jacka$$?

    Sure, the Pats sucked in the 60′s, but sandwiched around some crappy years they had a damn good team in the mid-late 70′s, they went to a Super Bowl in the mid 80′s, and again – under Parcells – in the mid 90′s, before breaking out big-time after 2000.

    There are plenty of teams that didn’t SNIFF a Super Bowl in all that time

    *looks at Cleveland, Jets*

    —————————————————
    Lets see mr new England fan.

    1… the pats didn’t even join the nfl until the 70’s. and yes, they won their division 4 times in 30 years.. dude, get real, winning 4 divisional titles in 30 years is not consistent what so ever. I dont remember much beyond the 80’s, but i will tell you this, until the 2000’s i don’t remember anyone saying before the season started ” i think the patriots will win the superbowl this coming season” do you?

    Is like me saying, boy the niners were awesome in the 70’s because they went to the playoff 3 times during that decade.. Consistency is what makes a good time buddy.

  34. Alex Smith HAS WHAT IT TAKES! Jim knows this and he will not let that talent go to another team.

    Step 1: Alex needs a REAL coach who knows how to put a QB in a position to succeed. Harbaugh will be that coach.

    Step 2: Alex needs an O-coordinator that will call plays to put him in a postion to be successful. Greg Roman will be that guy.

    Step 3: Crabtree is awesome but he’s not a #1 WR. They need a WR that can streach the field and open things up for Crabtree underneath and Gore in the running game.

    KEEP ALEX IN SAN FRAN!!!

    (These points are not somthing just “Alex needs”. These are things that EVERY QB in the NFL needs to be successful. Look at the best QB’s. Brady, Manning, Brees, Rivers, Rodgers, even Vick. They all have a WR that can spread the field and coaches who know how to put them in a postion to succeed. Everthing else will fall into place especially with the 49er defense)

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