49ers' mixed QB signals worth monitoring

Posted March 05, 2011 @ 11:48 a.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

The surprisingly strong initial bond we had been hearing so much about between new Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh and newly promoted GM Trent Baalke was definitely on display at this year’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “I’ve been really impressed,” Harbaugh said when asked by PFW about his relationship with Baalke. “He is a smart guy. He is a hard, hard worker. There haven’t been too many days, maybe a couple, where I drive my car into the parking lot that his car isn’t already there. We’re talking pretty early in the morning.

“I didn’t know him before this process started. I’ve been leaning on him a lot. There’s not a day that goes by where we don’t talk football. That we don’t talk San Francisco 49ers. That we don’t think about how to improve our football team and our situation. So, I'm learning a lot from him. I mean, he’s taken the lead in terms of the draft. I’ve sat in on a lot of those meetings. He’s run them. He’s extremely good at it.”

While Harbaugh certainly seemed sincere in his praise of Baalke, it does appear they have dramatically different views on the key subject of free-agent QB Alex Smith. Harbaugh seemingly appears more than a little willing to give Smith a legitimate shot at retaining the starting QB job. Baalke, on the other hand, previously indicated that keeping the status quo under center was very unlikely, and he has refused to say anything else on the subject since then. “You’d think they would put up more of a united front,” said one team insider of Smith’s murky status. “This will be something to watch more down the road. Both of them have strong opinions.”

Very interestingly, Smith’s actual interest in remaining with the Niners — which we’ve been hearing for some time now isn’t all that strong — has been overshadowed by the mixed support he’s been receiving from the Niners’ new hierarchy. Said the insider: “I think Alex wants to move on, but it’s so funny, nobody is mentioning that angle.”