Jim Harbaugh joined the 49ers during the lockout-affected offseason in 2011.
The 49ers weren’t allowed to practice at team headquarters. But former quarterback Alex Smith held “Camp Alex” sessions at nearby San Jose State University.
The 49ers won 13 regular season games that year and reached the NFC title game with Smith as Harbaugh’s top signal-caller.
With San Francisco now set to face Smith as an opponent with the Kansas City Chiefs, Harbaugh has not forgotten all that the former No. 1 overall pick accomplished in the Bay Area.
First and foremost, Harbaugh respects the work Smith put in that offseason.
“Certainly that and a long, long list of things,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “Great memories of his leadership and his play. Just the person he was. He was a guy who was universally respected by his teammates and coaches. A long list of great memories.”
Harbaugh didn’t peel back the onion too much, a phrase he likes to use, when discussing the matchup against Smith.
The 49ers coach was honest about his take on the subject.
“It’s personal with Alex, you know? It’s probably different in that way,” Harbaugh said. “I feel like there’s a great friendship there and a lot of history.
“He’s a unique person. He’s a very, just good in all ways. Good friend.”
Harbaugh noted that Smith is “no longer a trusted agent” for the 49ers. And knowing Smith as well as Harbaugh does, the 49ers coach expects to see tough competition from the former starting quarterback who was replaced in the starting lineup by
“I know the competitor that he is, he wants to win and we do as well,” Harbaugh said. “I’ll be able to tell you a little more maybe afterwards, but it feels different right now.
“We wish him the best, a long and healthy and successful career.”