49ers' GM Baalke wants Alex Smith 'in the mix'

April 20, 2011, 8:40 pm
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April 20, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comSANTA CLARA -- The 49ers have one quarterback under contract, and general manager Trent Baalke said there's a "likelihood" the team will use at least one of its 12 draft picks next week on a quarterback.Quarterback Alex Smith is not property of the 49ers, but he continued to be one of the hot topics Wednesday during Baalke's pre-draft briefing with reporters. (Veteran David Carr is the only quarterback signed with the 49ers through 2011.)
And Baalke said the organization would like Smith, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 draft, to return to the team to compete for playing time.
"Coach (Jim Harbaugh) is very comfortable with him," Baalke said. "I'm very comfortable with him. Will Alex choose to come back here? You'll have to get him on the phone and ask him that question."But he's certainly a guy we would like to throw into the mix."RELATED: 2011 NFL Draft page
Smith has not spoken publicly about his situation since the end of the season.If Smith returned to the 49ers, he would be working under his seventh offensive system in seven years. His only exposure to the West Coast offense came in 2005, during Mike McCarthy's one and only season as 49ers' offensive coordinator.Baalke bristled when it was suggested the 49ers could acquire any number of veteran quarterbacks who have more background in the West Coast system than Smith.
"I'd like the list of guys who know the West Coast offense that we can get," Baalke said. "I don't know that I totally agree with that."BACH: Secretive Baalke meets media, reveals little
Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, like Smith, is scheduled for free agency. Backup quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and Josh Johnson could be available in trades with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, respectively.So what's the advantage for the 49ers to re-sign Smith?"I think there are a lot of reasons," Baalke said. "He understands this building. He understands the system that Coach is interested in running from a dynamics standpoint. They obviously hit it off in their discussions. There's a lot of comfort in having somebody -- especially when we're in the situation that we're in -- where there are so many unknowns." Baalke revealed that the 49ers had pre-draft visits with quarterbacks Jake Locker (Washington) and Christian Ponder (Florida State). Blaine Gabbert (Missouri), Ryan Mallett (Arkansas) and Andy Dalton (TCU) were previously known to have visited the 49ers.RELATED: Tracking the 49ers' draft-eligible player meetings

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