Like Those Who Came Before Him, Jim Harbaugh Putting Faith In Alex Smith to Finally Fulfill Potential

September 1, 2011 – 9:00 am by Steven Cuce

You cannot discuss the San Francisco 49ers this season without mentioning their first year head coach Jim Harbaugh and his dilemma at starting quarterback. In the latest installment of the 49ers quarterback competition, Harbaugh still defends Alex Smith, citing the former first overall selection in the 2005 draft’s mental toughness as why Smith is still deserving of trust and opportunities.. Although there was a ton of talk of Colin Kaepernick having a chance to beat out Alex Smith in training camp in the aftermath of April’s draft, the lockout effectively ended Kaepernick’s chances at unseating the incumbent Smith just yet.

It’s been said before, but it may really be now or never time for Alex Smith in San Francisco. Can Harbaugh salvage Smith’s career as the new head coach and offensive mind in the Bay Area? Harbaugh sounds confident in himself and Smith as the regular season opener against divisional foe Seattle rapidly approaches.

Jim Harbaugh joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Scott & BR to discuss his first training with the San Francisco 49ers, the starting quarterback competition between Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick, Alex Smith being a solid NFL quarterback, making the transition from being a college to professional head coach and some position battles where the 49ers will be making final cuts in the last preseason game.

How is your first training camp going with the 49ers?

“Well it’s going well getting to know our team. Our team getting to know us and we played three games and right now we got 11 days until our opener against Seattle. We have a ball game in San Diego tomorrow night. We are looking forward to that and then the next 11 days leading up to the opener, but we are fighting for our lives.”

I know it hasn’t been talked about much [Sarcasm obviously], but can you talk about the quarterback position?

“Our guys are competing. They are learning the system and doing a great job of it in my opinion and they are playing tough and leading our team is Alex Smith and he’s been our starter throughout the preseason and he will be again in San Diego, so I look forward to a good ball game.”

As a guy who played as a quarterback in the NFL do you believe Alex Smith can develop into a good, solid, starting quarterback?

“Yes. Yes he can. The things that have occurred over the first seven years of Alex’s career have been good. There has been some tough times, but all those experiences I believe lead to success. You never know what path it is going to take or what’s going to transpire to get Alex and our franchise to where we want to go, so just with continuos effort just keep plugging away and he’s done a great job of that. He’s been mentally tough guy. He’s been physically tough and a strong young man. It’s been a pleasure to work with him and hopefully we are doing everything we can to make our team better and get Alex and us where we want to go.”

Do you believe you are the same head coach you were at Stanford? How are things going in the pro’s?

“I would say I feel like the same guy and it feels like it is working fine. Now the results will be where the proof is, so it’s kind of tough to answer that question other then I feel like the same guy.”

In the final game of the preseason some positions are out on the line. Where are the tough spots where you are going to be making some cuts?

“I think there is a few. There’s a few in the secondary. Shawntae Spencer is somebody who has played a lot in the league and with the 49ers, who’s been out all of the training camp. He’s just now getting back into the lineup. How quickly will he acclimate? We believe we have seven starters on the offensive line and then you have to get down to five and pick those finals spots there in terms of starters. Those would be the two spots I would say in terms of who is going to start. You have others in terms of who is going to make the 53 [man roster], the 46, and etc.

Listen to Jim Harbaugh on XX Sports Radio 1090 in San Diego here

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