Jim Harbaugh wants to be clear: Despite working out Peyton Manning, the San Francisco 49ers always wanted quarterback Alex Smith.
The 49ers head coach veered into an unprovoked discussion about Manning and Smith at the end of his session with reporters Wednesday.
"Oh one other thing: There's a perception out there and it's an erroneous perception that we were flirting with Peyton Manning," Harbaugh said. "I keep hearing it over and over. It's silly and it's untrue. It's phony. Even the perception that we were pursuing. We were evaluating."
"I've said all along that Alex Smith has been our quarterback. There's no scenario, other than Alex choosing to sign with another team, that we would consider him not as our quarterback.
"We don't like to compare or talk about someone on another team. But in this case, it's time to set the record straight.
"Alex Smith is our quarterback. Was our quarterback. Had every intention of always bringing him back. There would have been no circumstance that would have let Alex Smith go.
"Were we out there seeing and evaluating if we could have them both? Heck yeah. We evaluate and eliminate the possibility."
Smith has taken his share of criticism because of his average numbers (17 touchdowns, 3,144 passing yards last season) on a 13-3 team.
The 49ers re-signed Smith to a three-year, $24 million deal.