Beyond Jim Harbaugh’s praise of Alex Smith and Harbaugh giving Smith a playbook the most obvious sign the former number one overall pick will return to the 49ers is him working out with several 49ers players. Smith worked out with Niners players including receivers Josh Morgan and recent draft pick Ronald Johnson. It was after the workout session that Smith said he will most likely return to the 49ers. Smith has a one-year contract from the 49ers wanting for him to sign once the lockout is over. The San Jose Mercury News reported,
But after an informal workout with 49ers teammates Tuesday, Smith said it appears likely he will be back for a seventh season. Smith, 26, did not want to be quoted directly but told reporters from The Sacramento Bee and Comcast Sports Net Bay Area they could summarize the gist of his comments.
After reading the article I felt somewhat comfortable. I am not sure what it is that makes me feel that way with Smith coming back. If you would have asked me back in January or February I would have said no way, no how. What has changed? Harbaugh’s assessment of Smith saying he can be a starting quarterback for the 49ers and his history of developing quarterbacks. When it comes to evaluating quarterbacks Harbaugh is a step above former coaches Mike Nolan, who selected Smith, and Mike Singletary, who made Smith his starter, but uncertainty remains.
Smith has been a disappointment every season he was given a chance to be the franchise quarterback and a leader on the field. Harbaugh is a rookie coach in the NFL so there is a chance this could be a decision that hurts his stature or somehow leads to his downfall but I doubt he will be another Josh McDaniels. Harbaugh does not have a magic wand that will make Smith an elite quarterback, it will be up to Smith to take that knowledge and apply correctly on the field. Smith’s one season when he thrived was under Norv Turner so having a head coach that is offense minded and effective at running an offense could allow Smith to redeem himself. Keep your fingers crossed.