Team president Jed York, speaking on KNBR radio in San Francisco on Thursday, said the Niners had not totally closed the door on Smith, who is an unrestricted free agent. But it's a decision that will be made by new coach Jim Harbaugh.
"I don't think we've made up our mind on that," York said of a possible return by the former No. 1 overall draft pick who never played to his potential in six seasons with the 49ers. He said Harbaugh intends to speak with Smith to discuss his possible return, although it's far from guaranteed they'll bring him back given his results and the likely fan backlash.
Smith has said he would prefer to sign with a team where he could compete for a starting job, and that would only happen with the 49ers if they can't swing a trade for a veteran who can slip easily into the West Coast offense, which Harbaugh said he plans to use.
Two quarterbacks who might be available are Donovan McNabb of the Washington Redskins and Matt Hasselbeck of the Seattle Seahawks. Both are familiar with the West Coast offense, and Hasselbeck is an unrestricted free agent. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, however, has said re-signing Hasselbeck is the team's No. 1 priority.
McNabb lost his starting job in Washington and is at odds with coach Mike Shanahan, who might be willing to make a deal.
Harbaugh will be at the Senior Bowl on Jan. 29 to look over quarterbacks who would be available at No. 7 in the draft, but the Niners would prefer to choose someone they can develop and hand the reins to a veteran next season.
Is Alex Smith that veteran? Probably not, but the fact York has said it's a possibility – even an unlikely possibility – is interesting to consider.
MORTON ADDED: The 49ers also announced that Ed Morton has been added to Harbaugh's staff as wide receivers coach. Morton spent the past four seasons as wide receivers coach at USC and was the school's offensive coordinator under Pete Carroll in 2009. Morton was the passing game coordinator for the New Orleans Saints in 2006.