49ers' courting of Alex Smith continues

New San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh had the following things to say regarding quarterback Alex Smith during a recently concluded interview with KNBR radio:

"I like Alex and I like being around him and I like what I see on tape. It has come up on tape and it is really not that complicated of a thing. This is a somewhat simple thing. We are going to get the best possible quarterbacks on our football team. Then we are going to throw the balls out there and they are going to compete for it. I believe starting quarterbacks are not anointed. That is an earned position. It’s about as simple as that. You go back to football being a pure game. It is that. It shows up on the tape. It is my job to do the best evaluation for the organization and get the best quarterbacks that we can on our football team. Then we will go play and that position will be earned.

"I’m not going to hide my feelings. I like Alex Smith. I like him as a football player, as a person. He is going to make the best decision for him (as a potential free agent). Some people say Alex Smith needs a fresh start, needs a new place to be. I say, 'Let that place be here.' "

Smith has never won an open quarterback competition at the NFL level. The 49ers handed the job to him out of college and that was understandable on some levels given Smith's draft status. Shaun Hill beat out Smith for the job heading into the 2009 season. The job went to Smith last season after the team traded away Hill and declared Smith its starter.

Smith does stand as the 49ers' best option right now. That is largely because there aren't other options. The 49ers would be better off keeping Smith as an option even though they will obviously look to upgrade the position. Bringing back Smith is much different from endorsing him as the franchise quarterback.