Harbaugh: QB spot will be earned

January 23, 2012, 11:53 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- The day after the 49ers' season came to an abrupt conclusion, coach Jim Harbaugh said he wants to keep things intact as much as possible for the 2012 season.
"It's a well-coached team, and a team that plays its hearts out," Harbaugh said on Monday, the day follwoing the 49ers' 20-17 overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game."(I) want to keep the band together."But that will be easier said than done. The 49ers have 15 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency, a list that includes Pro Bowl defensive backs Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson, along with quarterback Alex Smith, outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, guard Adam Snyder, and receivers Ted Ginn and Joshua Morgan."If a player could just make significantly more money going to another team than we would be willing or able to pay them, I'd be happy for those players," Harbaugh said. "But we're going to compete for the guys that played 16 games, were consummate team guys. That's what I told them and that's what we'll do."The grass isn't always greener, and our players have built up a lot of equity here with me, with these coaches, with our organization. And they'll make the best decision for their families and themselves."Smith is expected to be back with the 49ers next season. But Harbaugh has remained consistent in his approach that every starting job must be earned. It would be no different next season, he said, as Colin Kaepernick will have an offseason and training camp to prove if he's capable of taking over.RELATED: Alex Smith: "I'd love to stay here"
"Everything is earned, everything is competed for," Harbaugh said. "And that was the beauty of Alex Smith and this past offseason. Many people have written how we told him the job was his. We never said that. We said that we'd get the best quarterbacks in here and throw out the balls. That's a position that's earned."It's never an anointed position. We've always been very exact in the way we said that. Not just the way we say it, the way we do it."The 49ers attempted to sign veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck last summer after the lockout lifted. Hasselbeck decided to sign with the Tennessee Titans. Then, Smith won a quarterback competition with Kaepernick, whom the 49ers traded up to select in the second round of the draft.

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