Harbaugh: Unanimous within 49ers that Smith is 'our guy'

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Harbaugh: Unanimous within 49ers that Smith is 'our guy'

On Saturday, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith went on stage to accept the award for NFL Coach of the Year on behalf of Jim Harbaugh.The two men played golf together on Tuesday at Pepple Beach as part of a five-hole 49ers vs. San Francisco Giants charity shootout. And on Thursday, Smith will serve as Harbaugh's caddie on the first day of the AT&T National Pro-Am.Smith is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but it appears highly unlikely that he'll still be available to the other 31 teams in the league when the free-agent signing period opens March 13.Harbaugh has made it clear he wants Smith re-signed, and he said Tuesday on "Chronicle Live" that the 49ers' decision-makers are in agreement that Smith is needed back.
"We're all in lockstep as an organization that Alex Smith is our guy. It's well-documented. You saw the way he played this year," Harbaugh told host Jim Kozimor. "(He is a) tremendous leader on our football team."There's Alex and there are other guys, too, that are high priorities. We want our guys. There are guys who play like 49ers, and what they do is they play their hearts out for our team. So Alex and others, (it's) going to be a high-priority to get those guys signed."RELATED: Alex Smith 2011 game logs
Smith, who turns 28 in May, posted career-best numbers in 2011 with 61.4 percent completions, 3,144 yards passing and a 90.7 passer rating. He threw 17 touchdown passes and just five interceptions while starting all 16 games. More important, the 49ers won the NFC West with a 13-3 record and advanced to the NFC Championship Game, where they lost 20-17 to the New York Giants in overtime."We're going to need to be better this year," Harbaugh said. "We're going to draft lower (No. 30). We'll play probably a harder schedule because we won the division. Expectations will be higher and teams will be coming after us. For a lot of reasons, we're going to have to be better."And Smith, who also appeared on "Chronicle Live" on Tuesday, agrees he must improve -- and his team must improve."For me, it's all about strengthening your weaknesses -- getting better," Smith said, "really analyzing where you need to get better and being honest with yourself, as a player and as a team. That's what will happen in the coming weeks."Smith returned to the 49ers in 2011 on a one-year contract that paid him a total of 6.5 million after hearing boos from the home crowd the previous season."I always felt supported in the Bay Area," Smith said. "Everywhere I go, I've always felt that support."In reference to the boos he heard in 2010, Smith said, "It's understandable. I'm a sports fan. When you're team is struggling, it's frustrating."But it is the memory of the 49ers' home playoff games that will drive Smith and his teammates to get better, he said."I don't think I'll ever forget the two home games at the 'Stick, the two playoff games and what that atmosphere was like, what the fans were like," Smith said. "That's what we're striving to get back to, get back to that environment because it was special. And once you get a taste of that, you don't want anything else."

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Gerald Hodges is in search of a new team and he's looking at a division rival of the 49ers.

The unrestricted free agent is scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Acquired in October of 2015 from Minnesota for a sixth-round pick, the four-year pro played in 25 games over the past two seasons with the 49ers.

In his time with San Francisco, the former fourth-round pick recorded three sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

But he was not considered a fit for the new 49ers under general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Hodges was deactivated for a game late in the season at Atlanta for breaking team rules. He did not offer an explanation or apology

The 49ers have signed three linebackers through two weeks of free agency: Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle and Dekoda Watson.

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

On the same day the FBI director announced members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are under investigation for colluding with Russia to influence the election, Trump turned his thoughts to Colin Kaepernick’s status as an NFL free agent.

And Jim Harbaugh, appearing on Pro Football Talk, suggested teams that are not showing interest in Kaepernick are making a mistake.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said Tuesday morning.

“He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

On Monday evening, during a rally in Kentucky, Trump made remarks about Kaepernick. In the lead-up to the November election, Kaepernick called Trump “openly racist” and said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, either.

“And you know, your San Francisco quarterback? I’m sure nobody ever heard of him,” Trump said.

“There was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that. I said if I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported an AFC general manager told him there were three reasons Kaepernick has not signed. Some believe, according to the anonymous source, that Kaepernick can no longer play at a high level. Others “genuinely hate him” for kneeling during the national anthem as part of his protest of racial inequality in America.

And, “some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him,” according to the report. “They think there might be protests or Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.”

Kaepernick’s teammates voted him the winner of the Len Eshmont Award for courage and inspiration last season. It is historically the most prestigious award among 49ers players. But the 49ers have already signed veteran quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

General manager John Lynch acknowledged last week on KNBR the odds of the 49ers bringing back Kaepernick are slim.

“I think the likelihood of that happening has gone down significantly. But we’re not going to close our mind or out options on anyone, including him,” Lynch said.

Even though there has been no reported interest in Kaepernick from any team around the league, Lynch said Kaepernick nearly signed with a team earlier during the free-agent signing period.

“I don’t know what happened to that market,” Lynch said. “He was, in everyone’s mind in this league, very close to signing a deal with a team at a really good number. And it fell through, apparently.”