Harbaugh: ‘I believe that Alex Smith can be a winning QB’

Jim Harbaugh trotted out some familiar sound bites during his interview Friday with Grant Napear on Sports 1140 AM in Sacramento.

Why the 49ers, Jim? It was “the perfect competitive opportunity.”

What about the potential challenge of having a lockout and being a first-year NFL head coach? Go ahead, let’s say it together, “All obstacles can and must be overcome.”

What about Alex Smith, coach? On this subject, Harbaugh deviated from the script.

Last week, he said he wasn’t into “absolutes” and would make “a great evaluation of the quarterbacks on the current roster and those that are out there that we could bring to the 49ers.”

On Friday, he reiterated that the Niners “would uncover every stone” in finding a quarterback.

But he also indicated that he’d started his evaluation of Smith. And his initial review was favorable.

“So excited, yeah, I’m going to say it, I’ve been studying Alex Smith and watching him and I believe that Alex Smith can be a winning quarterback in the National Football League,” Harbaugh said. “I’m excited to work with him, get to know him.”

What are some of the qualities Harbaugh saw in Smith?

“Very accurate passer,” he said. “Very athletic. And a guy that has played and been durable.”

Harbaugh went on to say that he’s talked with Smith and other players about having a “clean slate” with the new coaching staff. And he also acknowledged that Smith might choose to get a completely fresh start with a new franchise after six turbulent seasons in San Francisco.

“Ultimately, he has to make a decision because he’s an unrestricted free agent right now,” Harbaugh said. “And what is his vision for himself? Does that include the San Francisco 49ers in that vision? And, like I said, we’re going to try to strengthen that position and get us to training camp in the best possible position we can be in.”

• Harbaugh said he is still working to complete his coaching staff. He estimated that he’d make his final hire in “another week.”

• Today is the 16th anniversary of the 49ers’ last Super Bowl title – a 49-26 win over the Chargers in Miami. Steve Young threw six touchdown passes and also had a game-high 49 rushing yards.

“Is this great or what?” Young said. “I mean, I haven’t thrown six touchdown passes in a game in my life. Then I throw six in the Super Bowl. Unbelievable.”

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