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Harbaugh, Smith Address Manning Evaluation

Posted by Taylor Price on May 30, 2012 – 4:53 PM

It was another Jim Harbaugh press conference, until it turned into a press conference unlike any other from the San Francisco 49ers head coach.

Following Wednesday’s Organized Team Activity at 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara, Harbaugh fielded nine minutes worth of questions about his current team before going out of his way to set the record straight on one of the biggest NFL storylines of the offseason.

Harbaugh reiterated that the 49ers never “flirted” with Peyton Manning, the longtime Indianapolis Colts quarterback who signed with the Denver Broncos this offseason. In his estimation, the team was “evaluating” a future Hall of Fame quarterback and doing its due diligence.

In talking with reporters, the 49ers coach made sure to explain that there was no circumstance that Alex Smith would not be in the mix in San Francisco. The conversation began after Harbaugh was asked an off-the-grid question about the throwing abilities of nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga. Soon after, the 49ers coach gave reporters something to write about that they surely weren’t expecting.

“Oh, one other thing,” Harbaugh began, “there’s the perception out there, and it’s an erroneous perception, that we were flirting with Peyton Manning… It’s silly. And, it’s untrue. It’s phony.”

“Even the perception that we were pursuing him,” Harbaugh continued, “we were evaluating him.”

Harbaugh made it clear that Alex Smith had been in San Francisco’s plans the whole time. In fact, a new contract was offered to Smith prior to the Manning evaluation that saw Harbaugh fly out to Durham, N.C., to watch the 36-year-old quarterback throw passes at Duke University.

Smith said he knew about the trip from Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke being up front with him about the scenario.

“For me, it’s always been the same story,” the 49ers starting quarterback said. “It’s the same thing we talked about when I re-signed. He’d been up front from the beginning, constantly had been in talks with me, negotiating with me and that was never off the table.

“It was simply a fact that potentially you’re going to have to compete with somebody.”

Harbaugh always envisioned having Smith on his roster.

“We’ve said it all along, Alex Smith has been our quarterback,” Harbaugh, the NFL’s Coach of the Year said. “There’s no scenario other than Alex choosing to sign with another team that we wouldn’t consider him not as our quarterback.”

Months had passed following the Manning-to-Denver story was finished, but Harbaugh was clearly focused on addressing what was reported in the aftermath. So Harbaugh brought up the issue, making it clear the team didn’t want to sacrifice roster depth by signing a player that would command “a sixth of our salary cap.”

“You don’t like to talk about guys who are on another team, but in this case,” Harbaugh said, “it’s time to set the record straight. Alex Smith is our quarterback, was our quarterback and had every intention of always bringing him back.

“There was no circumstance that we would have let Alex Smith go.”

Smith reiterated his appreciation for the support from his coach, who was always up front with him about the team’s free agency scenarios. When it came down to potentially competing for the job in San Francisco, Smith didn’t balk at the opportunity.

Although he took a free agent visit to see the Miami Dolphins (what he called playing “the game a little bit,”), Smith’s heart remained in San Francisco.

Unfinished business and a comfort with the locker room and the coaching staff made it an easy choice.

“For me,” Smith said, “this was always the place.”

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Posted in Announcements | 16 Comments »

16 Responses to “Harbaugh, Smith Address Manning Evaluation”

  1. By george on May 30, 2012 | Reply

    United like a family, lets go for big thinks this year. NOBODY HAS IT BETTER THAN US

  2. By Krazy Canadian on May 30, 2012 | Reply

    No doubt, 11 years with Alex will make another stupid comment complainingg about QB Alex Smith in the above article. Dont let him bother you anymore,thats what he wants. lol Clearly he has nothing better to do, and has no life. He’s probably a Vikings fan.. lol Alex Smith had a good season, true he’s no Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger, but those Qbs have all lost a Superbowl, so who cares about how many yds you throw in a game if you dont win. Case in point the QB from Carolina, great stats but how many wins did the TEAM get? If Alex can keep the INTS down and not turn the ball over, move the ball down the field and be effective in the red zone, anything is possible. With our defence and new offensive weapons, i think Smith will have his best season ever. He sure looked good in the Playoff game against the Saints last year, and he did’nt fumble 2 kickoffs to give the Giants 10 points in the big game. Go Alex Smith Make a name for yourself and prove all the naysayers wrong Lots of 49er fans in Canada GO NINERS

  3. By scott repella on May 30, 2012 | Reply

    I’m looking.forward to see what Alex can do for us this year. We have a lot of weapons on offense. So.hopefully he will have a better year. He was ok last year but made a lot of miatakes in the playoffs. He needs to get better and cut back on the mistakes. With our offense this year I’m looking forward to it. Go Niners!!

  4. By NinerFanFromTonga on May 30, 2012 | Reply

    I knew this was the story all along. I don’t allow the media to influence my views at all. What I know of Harbaugh is that he’s a straight shooter, he would not have gone behind his current QB’s back to sign Manning without being perfectly upfront with AS. Thanks for confirming what I had known all along. Coach is a man of high morals and values.

  5. By blackgummibear on May 31, 2012 | Reply

    It was clear to see, what the 49ers had in mind. They wanted Alex back but only on there conditions. Alex wanted 5 yrs, 49ers wanted 3. So to get alex to bite they kind of flirted with peyton, just to get his attention. No trips to the clubhouse, stadium or even a wine & dine, nothing that you could even say looked serious. GM Baalke said one time that the 49ers offer players a contract that they feel is fair market value and thats it. No negotiations, they felt alex had made plenty and that the club has been patient. So with the motivation of peyton manning, the 49ers were able to get their man for the right price. Done deal.

  6. By Hmrhead on May 31, 2012 | Reply

    If you dont allow the media to influence your views, then why do you automatically accept this story as being truthful?

    I believe the cost of Manning’s asking price and the understanding that a few starters would have to be cut in order to provide that contract was a factor. If Manning was willing to sign for the same money as Alex, there’s is no doubt in my mind that Baalke and Harbaugh would have been more aggressive in their pursuit and Alex would be elsewhere. And I think that every Niner fan in the world would have been ok with that.

  7. By ben hernandez on May 31, 2012 | Reply

    Can we talk? Let’s be honest about this.Out of all the 32 nfl teams,there is not one who would not want
    to have Peyton Manning on their roster.But at what price?Balke and Harbaug
    would not ransom the team for Manning.I believe Manning is still damage goods.
    He is old.But that being said,he is still better than most qb’s at his age and at 85%
    healthy.But as a forty niner ,I would not let go of 2 or 3 of our db’s or dlineman
    to get Peyton.

  8. By ben hernandez on May 31, 2012 | Reply

    Sorry about the misspelling of our coaching and staff members

  9. By natedawg on May 31, 2012 | Reply

    I feel like this is just another “Micheal Crabtree has the best hands I’ve ever seen” tactics by Jim Harbaugh. Dude if Alex was your guy from the start, why would you be “evaluating” anyone else? And why did they turn down Alex Smith’s original salary request and risk him signing with the Dolphins?

    The only excuse that I could think of is that he would want both QBs, but do you think they would really pay for both with Manning’s salary?

    I feel like Harbaugh is just trying to boost his teams ego. He started with Crabtree, and now he’s working his way to Alex.

    I’m not being negative, I love this team, but Harbaugh should just shut his mouth about that situation and skipped the additional drama. No one even asked him about Manning lol

  10. By tim49'r34yrs on May 31, 2012 | Reply

    r y guys nuts? when the team looked at manning they didn’t have a signed qb. they would have been nuts not to check it out.

  11. By nonnatedawg on May 31, 2012 | Reply

    I’m sure Harbaugh will consult you natedawg the next time he wants to speak. NOT!!!. He’s the coach, the media created the extra drama, he addressed it. End of story.

  12. By DMT on May 31, 2012 | Reply

    Guys like beason are exactly what losing teams are made of. Instead of getting worked up over what some player 3,000 miles away, and not even on your schedule this season says, he should be wondering why did all of your fancy QB stats only add up to six in the win column.

  13. By natedawg on Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

    Hey nonnatedawg, you can hate on me all you want but I’m saying it like it is. The media didn’t even ask about Manning. If you read the article above it said that the media asked him a question about Issac Sopoaga’s throwing ability, and then he went on this rant about Manning.

    I like Alex as our QB. I just feel like you don’t have to play high school gossip games to motivate him.

  14. By moeTOgo on Jun 4, 2012 | Reply

    None of you actually believes line of lies? If it is true I hope every future free agent takes note on how this team is willing to waste their time just so they can “evaluate” players they have no intention on signing! It just makes me laugh at how this staff has to handle smith with kid gloves. Hes been in the league for how long and they treat him like hes a rookie that they are afraid of hurting his feelings.
    They should have signed manning! Smith is a below average starter and the whole league knows it thats why with all the teams in desperate need of a QB this offseason and only one team offered him a contract…the lying 49ers staff. And really they wanted to upgrade the position.

  15. By moeTOgo on Jun 4, 2012 | Reply

    DMT – and guys like Smith should keep practicing to make sure he doesn’t lose his starting job for the 10th time and stop dogging rookies. because we all know what smiths rookie season was: 1-TD 11-INT 11-FUM 4-wins!!! (thats 34 less TDs than Cam and less wins)
    Also Cam had more rushing TD than all the 49ers RB combined. So Smith should stop dropping names when he is frustrated because media keeps questioning his ability (with good reason… This teams D won those games and bailed Smith out)

  16. By NinerFanFrmTonga on Jun 4, 2012 | Reply

    Hmrhead, I didn’t take this article as fact. I first read the coaches day with the media. In it he dropped that bomb about Manning. He clearly spoke up to clear the rubbish the media was putting out as; “Niners were pursuing Manning to replace AS. It was a complete fabrication of the media, the Niners never had that intention in mind. It was to evaluate Manning, it was not the Niners who pursued Manning, but Manning pursuing the Niners. When they (Niners) didn’t want to pay the kind of salary Manning expected, Manning looked to Denver (who I might add fell for it). Fell for it in what Manning wanted salarywise and not from any other angle.

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