Harbaugh takes a close look at Alex Smith


Harbaugh takes a close look at Alex Smith

PART 1: HARBAUGH'S JUGGLING ACTEditor's note: This is Part 2 of a three-part series taking a look at Jim Harbaugh's first month as 49ers' head coach. This installment looks at the 49ers' quarterback situation, and how Harbaugh is forming his own opinion of Alex Smith without any outside influence.Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comQuarterback Alex Smith rolled a hand truck into the 49ers' locker room the day after the season ended to assist in the process of clearing out the clutter from a locker he occupied for the past six years.
He appeared ready to get a fresh start in an NFL locale where his mere appearance on his home field does not elicit boos.But the new coach of the 49ers might try to convince Alex Smith to stick around. Jim Harbaugh, on the job for one month, has studied Smith as a player and has gotten to know him as a person.In fact, Harbaugh and Smith have met several times face-to-face. And they have even gone out together to the practice field behind the team's Santa Clara complex."Yeah," Harbaugh told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, "we were out on the field -- just two guys throwing the ball around."Asked whether he used his on-field interaction with Smith as a chance to work on mechanics and fundamentals or whether it was just a way to break the ice, Harbaugh answered, "Both.""I've had a couple meetings with him," Harbaugh said. "It's been good. And I look forward to continuing that (this week) when he's back in town."Smith is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason for the first time in his career. When free agency begins, Smith will be allowed to speak with other teams and weigh his options before signing a contract. The 49ers hold sole negotiating rights with Alex Smith through March 3.
MAIOCCO: 49ers must have multiple QB plans
Veteran David Carr is the only 49ers' quarterback who has a contract with the club for 2011. Like Alex Smith, Troy Smith is scheduled for free agency this offseason. Nate Davis, who spent last season on the practice squad, had no contractual ties to the 49ers and has already signed a futures contract with the Seattle Seahawks."Right now, as you look at it, there's only one quarterback on the roster," Harbaugh said. "We got to look at all possibilities. That's my job -- to make the best possible evaluation for the organization."And part of that evaluation, Harbaugh says, is to not allow the opinions of others to influence him.The home fans vocally expressed their displeasure with Alex Smith last season. And, now, they see how local product Aaron Rodgers, from the same draft class, has ascended to stardom as the Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.
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Can Alex Smith succeed with the 49ers? Does he need a change of scenery to continue his NFL career? Those questions are irrelevant to Harbaugh, he said."My job is to make evaluations and come to my own conclusions at every position, as it relates to the entire football team," Harbaugh said. "And I like to make those on my own without outside influences."General manager Trent Baalke, who has the final say over the 49ers' 53-man roster, seemingly made it clear where he stood last month in comments to Pro Football Talk."Is the quarterback of the future on this roster?" Baalke said on Jan. 11. "I think it's obvious that he isn't at this point."Harbaugh's reaction?"It was factual," he said. "The only quarterback on the roster right now is David Carr. So take that as a factual statement. The quarterback of the future is not on the roster right now. We're talking about multiple guys we need to get on the roster."Technically, Alex Smith is still on the 49ers' roster until March 3. But, of course, he will need a new contract to play again for the team that drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2005.Alex Smith had six different offensive coordinators in his first six NFL seasons. He has not played for an offensive-minded head coach while with the 49ers. Then-coach Mike Singletary benched Alex Smith for the franchise's most important game of their eight-season playoff drought.Singletary called on Troy Smith to start a must-win game against the St. Louis Rams on Dec. 26. But Troy Smith struggled, and Alex Smith was inserted into the game in the second half of the team's 25-17 loss that knocked the 49ers out of playoff contention.Alex Smith started 10 games last season for the 49ers and compiled a career-best 82.1 passer rating. The 49ers were 3-3 in Troy Smith's starts, but he completed just 50.3 percent of his attempts and had a passer rating of 77.8.Harbaugh's brother, John, included Troy Smith among his final cuts before the start of the 2010 season. The Ravens elected to stick with two quarterbacks -- Joe Flacco and Marc Bulger -- rather than carry Troy Smith as the No. 3.When asked specifically about Troy Smith, Jim Harbaugh answered, "Like everybody, I don't want to get into each specific guy. But that's also my job to evaluate the same with everybody."Certainly, a huge part of Harbaugh's offseason will consist of finding an answer at quarterback. Harbaugh has clearly kept the door open for Alex Smith's return. And the list of veterans who might become available in free agency or via trades includes such players as Kevin Kolb, Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton and Donovan McNabb."You have to understand, we're trying to look at every possibility with your football team, in terms of talent and acquired talent," Harbaugh said. "And those are the ways, through free agency, draft, trade and coaching your own players You have to put together a specific plan for improvement."In addition to the acquisition of a veteran or two, the 49ers can be expected to select a quarterback in the seven-round draft, which is scheduled for April 28-30.
RELATED: Matt Maiocco's 2011 NFL mock draft
Harbaugh, who played quarterback for 15 NFL seasons, will have plenty of time over the next 11 weeks to thoroughly scout the prospects. The 49ers' top three scheduled draft picks are at Nos. 7, 45 and 76 overall."We're working on free agency," he said, "and the draft will ramp up as we get closer to the combine." In the final of the three-part series Tuesday, Jim Harbaugh becomes familiar with roster he inherited, and he begins the process of designing the team's schemes.What's your take? Email Matt and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

49ers 'ecstatic' with first-day haul in the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers 'ecstatic' with first-day haul in the 2017 NFL Draft

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers began Thursday with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.

When his first day as 49ers general manager reached its conclusion, John Lynch had selected two of the three top players on his draft board and picked up additional third-round picks for this year and next year.

After Myles Garrett, the 49ers’ top-rated prospect, was the Cleveland Browns’ selection at No. 1 overall, the 49ers traded back one spot with the Chicago Bears. The 49ers still got their No. 2-rated prospect, Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

The 49ers started making calls to teams with selections in the teens, according to coach Kyle Shanahan, to inquire about trading up for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. The 49ers finally worked a deal with the Seattle Seahawks to move up three spots to No. 31.

All they gave up was a fourth-round pick acquired from the Bears earlier in the day.

“In terms of how we rated them, we got two of our top three players,” Lynch said. “We’re thrilled. We’re ecstatic. I think these guys have traits that encompass what we want to be about as a football organization.”

Lynch said he began speaking with Bears general manager Ryan Pace more than a week ago. Because the 49ers had picks scheduled next to the Bears in every round, Pace suggested to Lynch that the two teams should be willing to work with each other throughout the draft.

The 49ers had other offers for the No. 2 pick, Lynch said. A source told NBC Sports Bay Area just prior to the start of the draft that the 49ers had fielded three solid offers.

The team’s chief strategy officer Paraag Marathe worked out the details to finalize the trade with the Bears.

The 49ers did not know which player the Bears were targeting at No. 2, but Shanahan voiced his opinion while the trade was going down.

“This guy is a pretty bright,” Lynch said of Shanahan. “He said, ‘That’s not for a defensive lineman. That’s for a quarterback.’ And he was right.”

The Bears made the trade to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick. In order for the Bears to trade up one spot, they delivered the 49ers a third-round pick (No. 67), a fourth-round pick (No. 111) and a third-round pick next year.

Jacksonville executive Tom Coughlin, whose team held the No. 4 pick, watched and admired the 49ers' move from afar. 

"To get what you had in mind right off the bat and pick up those extra picks? Pretty nice deal," Coughlin told Jacksonville reporters. "I’ve never seen one of those. . . Oh, my gosh. Nothing like that has ever come my way.”

When asked if the 49ers would have selected Foster if the Bears selected Thomas, Lynch said, “Perhaps. It was very likely.”

Instead, the 49ers waited and waited and waited before finding a trade partner in an unlikely place. The 49ers made a deal with Seattle, giving up the 111th pick obtained from Chicago, to select Foster. The Saints had already told Foster he would be the pick one spot later.

“He’s my kind of player,” Lynch said of Foster. “He plays sideline to sideline, and he’ll hit anything that moves. I think that’s contagious for teammates.”

Foster is recovering from shoulder surgery and his stock was negatively affected by character concerns. He was sent home from the NFL scouting combine after an argument with a hospital worker during his medical check. He also had a positive drug test due to a diluted urine sample.

Lynch spent a lot of time with Foster during his visit to Santa Clara, as well as a meeting him at the combine. Both Lynch and Shanahan spoke regularly with Foster on the phone and on FaceTime in the past few weeks.

The 49ers also dispatched vice president of football affairs Keena Turner and team chaplain Earl Smith to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to meet with Foster for two days. The team will have a plan in place to help guide Foster as he transitions to professional football, Lynch said.

“I would tell you that his character is what drew us to him,” Lynch said. “When you start talking football with this young man, he lights up a room. He’s a good kid. I believe in the kid. I think he’ll be a great player for this organization for a long time.”

What we really learned from day one of the 2017 NFL Draft

What we really learned from day one of the 2017 NFL Draft

So after one day of the NFL Draft, we know the following:
1.        Roger Goodell could be booed on the surface of the sun, and if you don’t think so, let’s all agree to give that thesis a try.
2.        The Oakland Raiders have invested a lot in Gareon Conley’s word.
3.        John Lynch is either a swindler, or he was presented with a deal that only an idiot could refuse.
Let’s do Goodell first. He was booed lustily and often by the huge Philadelphia crowd, and though he would be booed anywhere (and he half-heartedly asked for more with a smile that looked more like a dog sticking his head out of a speeding car window), Philadelphia booing causes osteoporosis.
Next, we go to the Raiders, who used the 24th pick in the draft to take Conley, the secondary man from Ohio State who is being investigated for rape. Conley has maintained his innocence, putting out a statement denying all the accusations, and TMZ claims to have a video that calls into question the woman’s story. In other words, nobody can be sure of anything quite yet.
Except the Raiders seemed sure enough to take him, and general manager Reggie McKenzie said the team investigated him and the incident thoroughly. In short, given Mark Davis’ stated opposition to employing players involved in violence against women, McKenzie better be right, and close enough to right to assuage any misgivings Davis or the customer base might have.
As far as Conley the player, check back with us in at least two years.
Finally, there is Lynch, who squeezed (or was amazingly offered) three picks from Chicago Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace in exchange for one place in the draft. Pace, who was immediately described by Wikipedia as “the soon-to-be former general manager,” took North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, whom the 49ers had little interest in.
In other words, Lynch either pulled a fast one, or had a fast one handed to him. Either way, the 49ers got Solomon Thomas, the defensive lineman from Stanford they had long coveted, plus a third-round pick tomorrow, one next year and one in the fourth round that they helped spin into Reuben Foster, the Alabama linebacker who fell from much loftier draft positions apparently because of shoulder concerns.
In short, McKenzie got a much-needed secondary man who might end up being more trouble legally than he is worth athletically (though the level of doubt here is sufficient to jump to no conclusions quite yet), and Lynch won a reputation as the young Billy The Kid, smiling precociously while he robs you at gunpoint.
Time will tell whether he also gets to be called a great talent evaluator, but for the moment, don’t ask him to hold your wallet. That, kids, is the highest compliment a general manager can receive on the first night of his first NFL Draft.