Alex Smith doesn’t rule out a return in 2011

Last week, 49ers president and CEO Jed York acknowledged he wasn’t content to stand pat at quarterback in the offseason.

“Is that a need?” York said. “Yeah, absolutely.”

York’s comment was just the latest hint that quarterback Alex Smith, an unrestricted free agent, would be playing elsewhere in 2011. And after six seasons filled with offensive coordinators, injuries, boos and disappointment it was assumed Smith might be eager to get a fresh start.

In the aftermath of today’s season-ending 38-7 win over Arizona, however, the embattled Smith addressed his uncertain future for the first time this season. And he didn’t dismiss a possible return to San Francisco.

“You know that’s something that, no question, I’m not ruling out,” Smith said. “I just have to look at it and make the best decision. Sit down with the people around me and do what I think is best.”

Smith’s return seems highly unlikely, but he delivered a strong performance in his last chance to audition for the rest of the league. Smith completed 15 of 29 passes for 276 yards and tossed a 34-yard touchdown to wide receiver Ted Ginn and a 59-yard strike to tight end Vernon Davis.

In his final seven games, Smith tossed 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.

“I’ve always believed in Alex,” Davis said. “I really appreciate his hard work, his dedication and his ability to focus through tough times.”

• Vice president of player personnel Trent Baalke talked informally with the media before the game and confirmed that he met with York for two hours Saturday at the 49ers facility.

CSN Bay Area and FOX Sports have reported that Baalke will become the team’s general manager, but the interview process will continue this week. The Sacramento Bee reported that York will begin interviewing candidates currently employed by NFL teams, which he couldn’t do until the regular season was over.

FOX’s Jay Glazer has reported that the Niners have reached out to Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, their top head-coaching candidate. Stanford will end its season Monday night against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

• Running back Brian Westbrook, who scored two rushing touchdowns, became the only active player to record 40 rushing touchdowns and 30 receiving touchdowns in his career.

Westbrook (41 rushing TDs, 30 receiving TDs) joined Marshall Faulk (100, 36), Lenny Moore (63, 48) and James Brooks (49, 30) as the only players in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

• The Niners’ 2011 schedule is set.

In addition to their NFC West opponents, the home schedule will include Dallas, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants. The road schedule will feature Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Detroit.

• Despite the win (an odd thing to write), the 49ers barely budged from their spot in the NFL draft. The Niners moved back a spot and will have the seventh overall pick in April’s draft.

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