Harbaugh: “I told Alex that I wanted him, that, ‘Hey, we’re going to want you to come back here next year.'”

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what Jim Harbaugh said about Alex Smith at today’s press conference.

Harbaugh starts with praise, and at the end he makes it very clear he wants Alex Smith to return to the Niners next year.

What Harbaugh didn’t say was whether he wants Smith back on a one-year deal or a multi-year one. The way he said it makes it seem like the Niners will offer him just a one-year contract.

Still, this announcement seems to confirm that the Niners will not make a run at Josh Johnson or Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning or any other quarterback this offseason. They’re rolling with who they’ve got.

For now.

HARBAUGH: “Anytime a quarterback can play sixteen games for you – start and play every down pretty much the entire season – that’s a man-sized job. That’s hard to do, and you don’t see many guys do it because it’s really hard. He’s been mentally tough, he’s been physically tough the entire year.”

Q: He made a play late in the game – I’m sure quarterbacks are taught to throw the ball away and avoid the sack – he held onto the ball for the sack to keep the clock going and force the Rams to take a timeout. Can you remind a guy to do that or does he just do that on his own?

HARBAUGH: “Well, we didn’t remind him to do that before the play started. You don’t want to plant that seed, plant a negative right before a play starts. But we talked about that in training camp, we talked about that in film study when we’re watching other players in the same situation, and he retains all that. He’s experienced enough now to know those things. That’s just situational football to him. He’s rarely going to have a lapse in that phase of the game. I know we’ve talked about that before – how good he is in terms of understanding situational plays in football (snaps his fingers) even as they’re occurring in split-second time. It’s just fun to see. And he makes a lot of those types of plays, and we’ve talked about that before – that they don’t show up in the yards statistics or the touchdown statistics when you start comparing him to other quarterbacks. But it’s there.”

Q: A week or so ago you said you consider Alex your guy going forward. Have you made that same verbal commitment to Alex?

HARBAUGH: “I’ve told Alex that, of course. I wouldn’t tell you something that I didn’t tell Alex, would I? (Laughs).”

Q: Is there a verbal agreement, almost like what you guys had before the lockout?

HARBAUGH: “No, no, I don’t know what verbal agreement you’re referring to, but…”

Q: He had your playbook.

HARBAUGH: “I told Alex that I wanted him, that, “Hey, we’re going to want you to come back here next year.” He’ focused on this season. That’s where his mindset wants to be. I totally respect that. We’ll talk about it and address it when the season’s over, the way I understand it.”

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