Harbaugh: Relationship with Smith is 'strong, as always'

March 21, 2012, 1:45 am
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SANTA CLARA -- Coach Jim Harbaugh said Tuesday evening that his rapport with quarterback Alex Smith is as strong as ever."It's been good -- strong relationship, as always," Harbaugh said as he left the 49ers' facility. "It's a very strong relationship."Smith's return to the 49ers appears imminent after an NFL Network report that the sides have agreed to a new contract to guarantee Smith returns to the 49ers for an eighth season.Harbaugh, however, declined to confirm the deal has been completed.
"I always have a good policy, based on experience, that it's never wise, never benefits anybody concerned to discuss negotiations and contracts in the media," Harbaugh said."We're in a negotiating time. We're in a free-agent period. We're in a contract talk. All these questions are about negotiations."Harbaugh said repeatedly this offseason -- prior to the start of free agency -- that Smith is "our guy." When asked if that's still the case, Harbaugh answered, "Nothing's changed."The 49ers pursued free-agent Peyton Manning, who on Monday chose with the Denver Broncos. Harbaugh declined to confirm that he had a meeting with Smith on Monday. CEO Jed York said the 49ers' offer remained on the table and it was up to Smith to agree to the deal.The return of Smith is a move that most expected would happen before now, but it was a big part of the 49ers' offseason plan.
Through the first week of free agency, the 49ers' biggest acquisitions have been wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. The team also extended cornerback Carlos Rogers with a four-year, 29.3 million contract.When asked if Harbaugh feels good with the 49ers' free-agent, he answered, "I do. I feel good about the way things are progressing. Excited to be back working. I felt that way for the last two months, get back get working and continue to build our team."And our players are. It's been great watching them come into the facility and see those guys working. i can't imagine there are very many facilities around the NFL with this many guys pumping iron and out there running and doing what our guys are doing. So I think they feel the same as well."