49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was available to the media once again earlier today and things got rather interesting, entirely of Jim Harbaugh's own accord. I'll have the full transcript tomorrow morning, but for now, I've posted some very specific comments from it after the jump. For the first time in a while, Coach Harbaugh directly addressed the Peyton Manning, Alex Smith situation from earlier this offseason.
The 49ers have been giving defensive players some opportunities to work on the offensive side of the ball. It could be for fun, to learn more about their opposing position or to find the next great offensive weapon. Whatever the case, Coach Harbaugh was talking about Isaac Sopoaga's well known cannon of an arm. He was asked about how he first saw Sopoaga's arm in action and then randomly went off on his Smith/Manning tangent.
I'm not really sure why now was the time for that tangent, but it's quite involved. Coach Harbaugh addressed it in his own way, but it's still interesting to read through. Head after the jump to check it out.
Do you remember was it in warm up? Do you have it in your mind the first time you saw that?
"The exact time, no. One of those early weeks in the season, or it could have been training camp. He likes throwing the ball. Oh, one other thing. There's the perception out there, and it's an erroneous perception, that we were flirting with [Denver Broncos QB] Peyton Manning. I keep hearing that over and over and over again. It's silly and it's untrue. It's phony. Even the perception that we were pursuing him. We were evaluating him. I've said it all along, [QB] Alex Smith has been our quarterback. There's no scenario, other than Alex choosing to sign with another team, that we would have considered him not as our quarterback. And don't like to compare or talk about somebody else that's on another team, but in this case it's time to set the record straight. Alex Smith is our quarterback, was our quarterback, and had every intention of always bringing him back. There would be no circumstance that we would have let Alex Smith go. Now, were we out there seeing, evaluating if we could have them both? Heck yeah. And you evaluate that, you eliminate the possibility. And further evidence, we would not have given any player that was out there in free agency a sixth of our salary cap, and let six, or seven of our own guys go here. So, hopefully that sets the record straight and you don't have to keep reporting the silliness and phoniness."
Did he contact you guys then and express interest in joining the 49ers? Is that how it went?
"Yeah, like I said, there was interest and we evaluated it, pursued it, further evaluated it and there was conversations. I'm not going to go into all those personal conversations, but there was nothing said to Alex that was not said to Peyton Manning or in house here, on the record, off the record. Both those young men knew exactly what our intentions were. And I was very clear about that, that Alex Smith would be back here as our quarterback in 2012, if we could make that signing. We said the same thing to Alex as we said to Peyton."
Was Alex going to Miami just a part of the game, with the free agency and seeing what was out there for him?
"Well, he was a free agent. He went on a visit, yes."
When you evaluated Peyton, when you went out to North Carolina, what did you think of him?
"Well, we thought that was a critical thing to do. He's coming off of a season where he was injured and he didn't play. He's going to be a fine player in the National Football League. And he made the best decision for himself going to the Denver Broncos, and we wish him nothing but success. He'll be good. He'll be fine."
If he did sign, you would have had to severely adjusted your roster to fit him under with his salary obligation?
"We're not going into all the-it's not your right, or anybody else's right to know exactly what those implications would have been. But, you could understand the best fit for us was Alex Smith. And we weren't going to give a sixth of our salary cap to anybody out there. We like six or seven of the guys we've got on this current team that much."
If Peyton had said he wanted to come though, would Alex still have been here as well?
"That would have been the hope, yeah. Like I said, there was no scenario where we weren't going to have Alex Smith on this team if we could help it. Now, you don't control all those factors, so I think that's very clear, very concise. Hopefully everybody can understand that."
One more thing on the clarification because from what we inferred, was when he decided on Denver he contacted you personally to tell you he was going to go to Denver instead of coming here, or that he was not interested? That's one of the perceptions. Is that accurate, or no?
"That's accurate. That's accurate. Like I said, Peyton chose the Denver Broncos and we wish him well."