Smith wants to re-sign with 49ers, who begin Harbaugh era

Alex Smith left no doubt about it: He'll be back with the San Francisco 49ers.

The free-agent quarterback told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on Monday that he will re-sign with the 49ers for a seventh season as soon as possible. Teams are allowed to re-sign their own free agents at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday.

"I'm not going to wait for anything," Smith said. "I'm excited for this to start ... waiting for that opportunity.

"I'm sure it'll be pretty quick. I'm sure it'll move fast. It's pretty well set in stone, I think."

Smith, who started 10 games in 2010 and posted a career-best 82.1 passer rating, took on more of a leadership role during the NFL lockout, organizing player workouts for the offense and even mentoring rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

"I felt like we made the most of a difficult situation," said Smith, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. "Especially on the offensive side, we tried to take advantage of the time and do what we could."

Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh, the highest-profile coaching hire of the NFL offseason, finally gets to begin for real with a franchise counting on him to turn around things.

"Hello, it's on," a smiling Harbaugh declared Monday upon taking the podium in the team's defensive meeting room. "Yeah, I'm nervous. I'm worried. That's a part of my job to be that way. Me personally, it keeps me on my toes. Anxious, all those feelings, to get started and get going. That's the good news: We can now start."

As one of a handful of rookie head coaches, the former NFL quarterback also will be a mentor to the QBs, most notably Smith and second-round draft pick Kaepernick. Smith has been declared by Harbaugh as the favorite to win the starting job. David Carr is the other quarterback in the mix.

There are so many questions at this stage, such as what kind of shape players will be in when they report to team headquarters Thursday ahead of Friday's first practice that will be helmets-only. Padded practices start Sunday.

In Harbaugh's case, there will be plenty of meeting and greeting to do in the early days. He estimates there are between 10 and 20 players he has yet to see in person. He has spoken to a number of his players by phone, and he spent much of Monday checking in with them.

"It feels more like football talking to those guys, even on the phone," said Harbaugh, hired back on Jan. 7. "I can't tell you how good it's going to be having those guys in the building, face to face, knee to knee, smelling their breath, just getting to know them, let them get to know me. That's what I'm looking most forward to."

Running back Frank Gore is one of the many players Harbaugh is eager to see. San Francisco will need a big comeback year from Gore, a two-time Pro Bowl player who went down with a season-ending fractured hip in a Monday night game at Arizona on Nov. 29. Gore, who avoided surgery, ran for 853 yards and three touchdowns in his sixth NFL season and caught 46 passes for 452 yards and two TDs. Gore's 24 100-yard rushing games are the most in 49ers franchise history.

Closely monitoring players will be paramount.

"Everybody's got to do just a great job of teaching and understanding where guys are," Harbaugh said. "Because guys are going to come in tiptop shape, there's going to be some guys that come in close to tiptop shape and you just don't know. There's the unknown with every single guy on your team, with every rookie free agent, drafted guy, that you sign. You just don't know.

"So the idea of the unknown, now you know why I'm nervous. You know why I've got some angst on a lot of different fronts."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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