Smith, the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick out of Utah, received a one-year, $4.9 million contract as a free agent last July after the NFL lockout -- when many, including the quarterback himself, figured he'd be headed elsewhere following six up-and-down seasons in San Francisco. But he has thrived under Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback who recently endorsed Smith as the team's answer under center moving forward.
"I've told Alex that," Harbaugh told reporters Monday. "I wouldn't tell you something I wouldn't tell Alex.
"I told Alex, 'Hey, we're going to want you to come back here next year.' He's focused on the season, and that's where his mindset wants to be. And I totally respect that, and we'll talk about it and address it once the season is over. That's the way I understand it right now."
Smith, 27, has thrown for 3,150 yards and 17 touchdowns with just five interceptions for the NFC West champion 49ers (13-3), who earned the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC and a first-round bye this week.
Smith is a big reason San Francisco finished with 10 total turnovers, which equaled the 2010 New England Patriots for fewest in NFL history since 1941.
Smith -- booed from every direction during recent seasons at Candlestick Park -- has said much of this season's success comes from him not trying to do too much in Harbaugh's West Coast offense. Smith has shown the poise under pressure and decision-making that Harbaugh believed the quarterback still had in him when the coach took over last January.
But Smith isn't ready to reflect on his resurgent 2011 season or the franchise's turnaround after going eight years without a playoff berth or winning record.
"You know, it's hard when you're still in the thick of it," Smith said. "It's probably a better question to ask me after the end of the season when everything is wrapped up. Right now, there's still a lot on the line. Not quite time for me to reflect on anything. We've done some good things, putting ourselves in a good situation."
Smith, who has played for a different offensive coordinator in each of his seven NFL seasons, has earned the confidence of his teammates.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press