Harbaugh and the second-round pick out of Nevada spoke to reporters before the coach addressed the annual Governor's Dinner in Carson City on Friday night, the Nevada Appeal of Carson City reported.
"All I want him to do is come in and compete and just get better each and every day," the coach said. "If he does that, that will equal success for him. He's got the talent and the ability to be a starter in this league. But that's all up to him.
"The best guy will play. The guy who practices the best, the guy who plays the best will play. There won't be any games, there won't be any politics. We're going to throw the balls out there and let those guys have at it," he added.
Kaepernick, who led Nevada to a 13-1 record and the No. 11 ranking last season, said he expects to compete with Smith once the NFL lockout ends.
"I'm just going to lay it all on the line," he said. "It's up to coach Harbaugh and his staff, but I'm going to do all I can to get that starting spot."
Kaepernick, who has a 49ers playbook, has recently worked out with Smith and other 49er teammates at players-only practices at San Jose State.
He said he has resisted the urge to call Harbaugh and ask him questions. An NFL rule prohibits coaches from working with players during the lockout.
"It's tempting," Kaepernick said with a smile. "There are times you just want to make sure you are making all the right reads and doing all the right things.
"But that's where Alex has been a great help. He's answered all my questions and I'm just trying to learn as much as I can," he said.
Harbaugh said he's looking forward to working with the 23-year-old from Turlock, Calif., once the lockout ends.
"I can't wait to start training him," the coach said. "As soon as that lockout ends, we'll start working with him."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press