PEBBLE BEACH (CBS SPORTS) – Jim Harbaugh has been an Alex Smith supporter at least as far back as last summer when, during the lockout, the first-year 49ers head coach announced that he wanted the then-free agent quarterback in San Francisco as his starter. This must’ve seemed odd to Smith, whose NFL career up to that point had been full of underachievement and disappointment (though, to be fair, it wasn’t completely his fault; this is what happens when you play in an new offense virtually every season in an organization that lacked stability until recently).
Now fresh off a 13-3 season, the NFC West title, and a trip to the NFC Championship Game, Harbaugh wants Smith, set to be a free agent in March, back for 2012. Even though the team selected quarterback-of-the-future Colin Kaepernick in the second round of the 2011 draft. Smith finished the season with 3,144 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and ranked 13th in Football Outsiders’ quarterback efficiency metric ahead of Joe Flacco and Cam Newton.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)