49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

December 20, 2011
Harbaugh says "I do" to Alex Smith; challenges Braylon Edwards


Jim Harbaugh revealed his Pro Bowl ballot this afternoon. At quarterback in the NFC, Harbaugh is going with Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, New Orleans' Drew Brees and .... drum roll, please ... his own Alex Smith. And he hopes the rest of the coaches and players feel the same way.

No, Smith doesn't have a lot of touchdown passes and 300-yard passing games. In fact he doesn't have any of the latter this season. But those statistics aren't always important, Harbaugh said.

"That's the low-hanging fruit - you go right to the yards line or the touchdowns," Harbaugh said. "I think that people who understand football understand there's a lot more that goes into the job of a quarterback."

Harbaugh was then asked if Smith, who is playing on a one-year contract this season, was the 49ers' long-term answer at quarterback. His answer: "I do."

The fan portion of pro-bowl voting ended on Monday. The coaches and players will vote this week. The votes from each group - fans, coaches and players - each count a third toward a player's total.

Smith's strengths, Harbaugh said, include his care of the ball. Smith has thrown only five interceptions this season and perhaps more remarkably, he's lost only two fumbles despite being sacked 39 times.

"He's also been uncanny in the pocket," Harbaugh said. "When he's been hit or sacked not giving up the sack-fumble, the big momentum turnover that can lead to a change in field position, put points on the board for the opposition."

Odds & Ends

• Harbaugh may think that Smith is deserving of the pro bowl. But he said another Smith - Justin Smith - is the team's most valuable player this season. Justin Smith is a safe bet to win the team's most prestigious in-house honor, the Len Eshmont award.

• Asked why Braylon Edwards didn't play Monday, Harbaugh said the decision was based on "the practices and the games." Still, with Ted Ginn (ankle) possibly out of Saturday's game against the Seahawks, Harbaugh said the team probably wouldn't add a receiver to the roster. "Braylon should be ready to go, and we'll look for a good week of practice there," he said.

• Speaking of receivers, Harbaugh said that the 49ers did indeed make a play in free agency for undrafted Stanford product Doug Baldwin, who has been excellent for the Seahawks this year. The Seahawks gave Baldwin one of the biggest signing bonuses of any undrafted player this year. "We should have drafted Doug," Harbaugh said.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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