NFL head coaches will formally meet with the press on Tuesday and Wednesday, but given that they are all already in town, they have had a chance to chat with the media on hand. Matt Barrows and Matt Maiocco are reporting from Orlando, and Harbaugh had an interesting tidbit related to the 49ers addition of Blaine Gabbert (Barrows/Maiocco).
Harbaugh was asked about Gabbert and the 49ers prospects of drafting him at No. 7 overall back in the 2011 NFL Draft.
"We were not going to draft a quarterback with the No. 7 pick," Harbaugh said Monday at the NFL owners meetings. "That was something we'd talked about as an organization and, really, personally made that promise to Alex Smith that we weren't going to draft a quarterback at No. 7."
It's worth noting that Alex Smith was technically unsigned at that point because the lockout prevented him from re-signing. We had an early report that he was expected to re-sign, but it did not happen until the lockout ended in July. In light of the lockout, it made sense for Alex to re-sign with the 49ers. He knew the players on the roster, and was able to get a playbook, with which he organized Camp Alex. Had he been intent on leaving, he would have signed somewhere else in July, and been stuck in a bad situation learning the playbook in only a few weeks.
I do wonder what his reaction was when the 49ers traded up to grab Colin Kaepernick in the second round. He likely saw him as the developmental prospect he initially was, but he had to be scratching his head at least a little bit. Obviously he still re-signed with the team, although that could have been as much about keeping his word as anything else.
It's all in the past at this point, but given the arrival of Blaine Gabbert, it's still rather interesting. Gabbert will get a second chance, albeit strictly as a backup. Harbaugh spoke about Gabbert's new situation:
"I think he's a very talented player and his career so far hasn't gone on to be what he expected, and maybe others expected it to be," Harbaugh said. "But I believe it can be a really powerful opportunity, powerful motivator for a player to say, ‘It wasn't me, it was my situation.' And now he has that opportunity.
This is much like what we're seeing with Jonathan Martin. You have two guys coming from bad situations, although obviously Gabbert and Martin have gone through different degrees of adversity early in their careers. Both come to San Francisco with little to no pressure. They will be competing for reserve roles, and Gabbert is almost assured of his at this point. He'll compete for opportunities, but with his salary, I don't expect him departing. Martin on the other hand has no guarantees, and the 49ers reportedly only give up a draft pick if he is on the roster to start the season. It will make for an interesting pair of storylines in training camp.