Blog Entry

Jim Harbaugh wants Alex Smith back in 2012

Posted on: January 3, 2012 12:03 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2012 1:11 pm
Harbaugh is excited about bringing Smith back for another season. (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Jim Harbaugh said it over the summer and now, six months later, his story remains unchanged: he wants quarterback Alex Smith back in San Francisco next year. Smith's first six NFL seasons can kindly be described as tumultuous; a mix of ever-changing schemes and coordinators that resulting in inconsistent play and occasional benchings.

But under Harbaugh, Smith has flourished. The first-overall selection in the 2005 draft has benefitted from a quick-pass offense that relies heavily on the running game and a stingy defense. It worked so well that the 49ers went 13-3, won the NFC West going away, and now have a first-round bye.

On Monday, Harbaugh reiterated that Smith was his guy.

"I've told Alex that," Harbaugh said according to's Matt Maiocco. "I wouldn't tell you (the media) something I wouldn't tell Alex.

"I told Alex, 'Hey, we're going to want you to come back here next year.' He's focused on the season, and that's where his mindset wants to be. And I totally respect that, and we'll talk about it and address it once the season is over. That's the way I understand it right now."

It's funny. Over the summer, Smith's NFL future was up in the air. The 49ers could've decided to move on, find a veteran quarterback to bridge the gap to 2011 second-round pick Colin Kaepernick, and turned the page on the Alex Smith era. Instead, Harbaugh kept Smith around, saved his career, and probably made him a lot of money in the process.

We wrote Monday that while the NFL might be a passing league but it's woefully short on passers. Smith isn't Joe Montana (or even Jeff Garcia) but in the right offense he's efficient and doesn't make mistakes. Based on the 2011 49ers, that can carry a team a long way.

And it's why Harbaugh wants Smith back in San Francisco for 2012. Beyond that, who knows. Which is why Smith might want to get while the getting's good, cash in on a lucrative long-term deal and play elsewhere next season. Then again, he owes Harbaugh for saving his career. Maybe loyalty is more important than money.

Either way, these are good problems to have. Usually this time of year we're talking about who should replace the current coach and/or quarterback. Instead the 49ers are preparing to host a playoff game for the first time since the 2002 season.

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Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:34 pm

Jim Harbaugh wants Alex Smith back in 2012

Too early to make this decision.  Let free agency happen, see where some of the first rounders fall, see where Flynn ends up, then decide if it's best to re-sign Smith. It's not like there's going to be a market for him outside of SF.

Since: Sep 25, 2009
Posted on: January 3, 2012 1:38 pm

Jim Harbaugh wants Alex Smith back in 2012

He's below average but he's not as bad as some people pretend he is. He's also still improving, and although I don't think his ceiling is anywhere near elite status, he can be an above average game manager if he keeps it up. Not bad if you can have enough talent around him. You can win an SB with Alex Smith, it's just less likely than winning it with a true franchise QB.

Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: January 3, 2012 12:50 pm

Jim Harbaugh wants Alex Smith back in 2012

The only thing that 49er fan should care about is winning.  However, I get why you might be scared a little.  Alex has not been special for the most part, but he has been extremely serviceable and that works.  I want a team to win over stats anyday, but... I get it!  Best of luck in the playoffs!

Since: Jan 3, 2012
Posted on: January 3, 2012 12:47 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: January 3, 2012 12:43 pm

Jim Harbaugh wants Alex Smith back in 2012

I'm a 49er fan and I like Smith.  That said, even in this 13-3 season, he hasn't proven himself as anything special.  Yes, he has certainly improved and produced his best season as a pro, but I'd be surprised if anyone really views him right now as a franchise qb.  In short, put him in another bad situation (like his entire career prior to 2011) and you get mediocre if not poor results.  The Harbaugh/Smith marriage has worked well, and it is best for all involved that it remain in tact at least through 2012, and likely several more years.  Smith would be a fool to finally have some meaningful success and respond by leaving a good thing...and it would be moronic for the 49ers to allow Smith to leave after finally developing him to the point that he looks like a good qb.  It is working well for everyone, so everyone should be very motivated to keep this thing going.

I don't see any team breaking the bank for Smith, and I expect the 49ers would be competitive with any potential offers any other team would make.  I'd be very disappointed if the 49ers tried to low ball Smith now.  A big part of this team's success was Smith's ability to avoid the game changing mistake.  His experience and temperament are ideal for what the 49ers are doing right now.  A young guy like Kaepernick is going to make his share of mistakes...even the great qbs have to grow up first. 

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