49ers’ Harbaugh is in Full Damage Control

How and why the young coach is taking public steps to soothe the ego of his quarterback.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

With NFL teams already starting their summer fun with OTA's and upcoming camps, it's time for organizations to fully address any newsworthy situations that went down in the few months since the SuperBowl. For Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers, that means downplaying their part in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes while building back up their quarterback, Alex Smith.

"It's an erroneous perception that we were flirting with Peyton Manning. I keep hearing that over and over again," Harbaugh said. "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 all along, Alex Smith has been our quarterback. There's been no scenario, other than Alex choosing to sign with another team, that we would have considered him not as our quarterback."

With these bold, if somewhat erroneous words, Harbaugh begins to publicly mend the bridge that he all but burnt down between the 49ers and Smith. It's as obvious now as it was then that if Manning had chose San Fran, Alex Smith would have been elsewhere. No public statements now are going to change that.

If San Fran were happy with Smith, then they would have politely declined Manning when he reached out to them late in the decision process. Sure, Manning's a future Hall of Fame guy who still could have a few years in the tank, but it is possible to say 'no thanks' to him. The Houston Texans did when approached.

Instead, they signed Smith to a three year deal the day after Manning signed with the Denver Broncos, a timing that can't fall under coincedence.

So now, in the aftermath of showing legit interest in Manning, Harbaugh must rebuild up the confidence of his fragile QB.

"Alex Smith is our quarterback, was our quarterback and we had every intention of bringing him back," Harbaugh said. "There would be no circumstance that we would have let Alex Smith go."

Time heals all wounds but it will be interesting to see if the sweet talking Harbaugh can really smooth the edges of this slight with Smith to the degree of comfort and trust that was evident a year ago. If the answer is no, then I don't see the 49ers making nearly as much noise as they did last season.

James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.

Photo Credit: AP