SmithThat's why he drafted Nevada's Colin Kaepernick.
Smith hasn't shown he possesses all the attributes Harbaugh covets. Accuracy, leadership, the ability to pull out victories from behind -- those things matter, too. But with the 49ers looking to bring along Kaepernick at a reasonable pace, re-signing Smith makes sense for all parties.
Smith would get to be wanted -- if not by fans, then at least by Harbaugh. Smith would get a chance to prove he can be a successful starter. Where else would he have a better shot at starting in 2011? Kaepernick would get to learn behind a quarterback with strong work habits and an agreeable disposition. The 49ers would buy time for Kaepernick without introducing an unknown quarterback into the equation. Harbaugh would get a season to prove he can get more from Smith than previous coaches could get from the quarterback. Smith would come at a reasonable price; the team wouldn't have to trade for him.
The Harbaugh-Smith courtship began about the time 49ers president Jed York said in January that the team had not ruled out bringing back the 2005 first-round draft choice.
There was no sense in ruling out a potential option. There was reason to think Harbaugh would like Smith. Then came word that Harbaugh thought Smith could become a winning quarterback. The comments made some sense. Before long, Harbaugh and Smith were hanging out together, even on the practice field.
Harbaugh expressed more affection for Smith during a fan forum. I could see why returning might appeal to Smith, and the courting continued. General manager Trent Baalke made sure everyone knew he wouldn't stand in the way. NFL rules against player-coach interaction interrupted relations for a while, but Baalke again outlined reasons why keeping Smith could make sense.
Harbaugh even gave Smith a playbook before a court ruling reinstated the lockout. It's now officially an upset if Smith doesn't come back for the 2011 season.