QB Alex Smith was the subject of several questions during the 49ers' annual pre-draft meeting with the media on Wednesday. And Niners GM Trent Baalke was consistent with his answer each time: the team would like to bring Smith back to compete for the starting job.
Despite struggling with injuries and inconsistency on the coaching staff since being selected as the top overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, Smith has shown flashes along with maddening inconsistency. If Smith, who is a free agent, were to return to the team, he would be working with his seventh offensive coordinator in seven seasons in Greg Roman.
Baalke was asked why the team would want Smith, who reportedly received an offer from the Niners prior to the lockout but is lleaning toward starting anew elsewhere, back in the fold in 2011.
"I think there are a lot of reasons," Baalke said. "He understands this building. He understands the system that Coach [Jim Harbaugh] is interested in running. From a dynamic standpoint, they obviously hit it off in their discussions. You know, I think there's a lot of comfort in having somebody, especially when we're in the situation we're in, where there are so many unknowns.
"I don't know how to keep beating the drum on this. Coach is very comfortable with him. I'm very comfortable with him. Will Alex choose to come here? You're going to have to get him on the phone and ask him that question.
But he's certainly a guy we'd like to throw into the mix."
Baalke also was asked how much confidence he would have in Smith if the QB was the team's starter next season.
"I have confidence in Alex. And once again, we've been through this, and I don't want to keep beating this Alex Smith thing up. Alex is … it's up to Alex to make the decision on whether he wants to be a 49er again.
"I think Jim has made it clear, he's made it clear through the process, that the olive branch has been extended."