ORLANDO, Fla. – The 49ers had the No. 7 overall pick in the 2011 draft, but they were not even considering a quarterback.
That’s a promise Jim Harbaugh said he made to then-unsigned veteran Alex Smith during the lockout.
Three years later, the 49ers acquired the quarterback who was selected with the No. 10 overall pick when the club added Blaine Gabbert from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth-round draft pick.
[MAIOCCO: 'Bowman rule' has 49ers, Harbaugh's support]
Instead of selecting Gabbert with their first pick in 2011, the 49ers went with Missouri teammate Aldon Smith. Then, the 49ers traded up in the second round for Colin Kaepernick with the No. 36 overall pick.
“We were not going to draft a quarterback with the No. 7 pick,” Harbaugh said Monday at the NFL owners meetings. “That was something we’d talked about as an organization and, really, personally made that promise to Alex Smith that we weren’t going to draft a quarterback at No. 7."
After three seasons with the Jaguars, Gabbert is looking for a fresh start with the 49ers as Kaepernick’s backup.
“I think he’s a very talented player and his career so far hasn’t gone on to be what he expected, and maybe others expected it to be,” Harbaugh said. “But I believe it can be a really powerful opportunity, powerful motivator for a player to say, ‘It wasn’t me, it was my situation.’ And now he has that opportunity.
“Glenn Dorsey is very good example of a player who was drafted high in the draft and to some people’s expectations, he didn’t attain that draft status. And then he comes to our team, powerful opportunity, powerful motivating factor of ‘It wasn’t me, it was the situation.’ (I'm) very intrigued by that. I’ve seen it work. I have high expectations that it can work for Blaine Gabbert.”