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Alex Smith signs three-year deal with 49ers

By Janie Mccauley

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, March 21 2012 12:30 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this Jan. 14, 2012 file photo, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) crosses the goal line for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter of an NFL divisional playoff football game, in San Francisco. A person with knowledge of the negotiations says quarterback Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers have agreed to terms on a three-year contract that will pay him $8 million per season with $16.5 million guaranteed. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday morning, March 21, 2012, because no announcement had been made.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, File, Associated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Quarterback Alex Smith signed a three-year deal Wednesday with the San Francisco 49ers that will pay him $8 million per season with $16.5 million guaranteed.

A person with knowledge of the contract details said Smith's deal can pay him up to $33 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract wasn't made public.

On Tuesday, Peyton Manning was formally introduced in Denver after the 49ers pursued the four-time NFL MVP. Coach Jim Harbaugh worked out Manning at Duke last week.

The 27-year-old Smith met with Miami on Sunday but ultimately decided to stay put with the storied franchise that drafted him first overall in 2005.

"Thanks for choosing the 49ers Alex. Sorry it was a tough week," 49ers CEO Jed York said on Twitter.

Smith had a breakthrough season last year, throwing for 3,150 yards and 17 touchdowns to help San Francisco reach the NFC title game.

Both sides made it clear after the Niners' 20-17 overtime loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the NFC championship game that they planned to work out a new deal.

It just took a little while longer than expected after Manning briefly entered the picture.

"We are pleased that Alex has chosen to continue his career as a 49er," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. "His contributions were instrumental to our success in 2011, and we look forward to the continued growth of our offense under his leadership"

Smith and Harbaugh built a strong working relationship in a matter of months, and Smith told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Sunday that he understood the business side of the NFL. So, perhaps it won't take long for Harbaugh and Smith to get over San Francisco's weeklong courting of Manning.

"It's a very strong relationship," Harbaugh told reporters while leaving team headquarters Tuesday, noting nothing had changed in Smith being "our guy."

Last spring, Harbaugh handed over his playbook to Smith during a brief lifting of the lockout — a show of confidence in the QB even though he wasn't under contract. Smith wound up re-signing for $4.9 million, then earned a $1 million bonus for making the playoffs as the 49ers ended an eight-year stretch without a postseason berth or winning record.

Now, he is getting some job security and a nice raise to boot.

"Oh, I'm excited," tight end Vernon Davis said in a text message. "I'm glad. Alex deserves all good things that come his way."

York had said the team's three-year offer still stood despite the pursuit of Manning, and it was just up to Smith to sign.

"I don't think there will be any bad blood because he went to Miami for an interview," former 49ers running back great Roger Craig said Tuesday. "That's part of the process, it's the nature of the beast. He has to do what's best for him and his family. I'm pretty sure the 49ers are going to work something out. Players love him, fans love him. I love him.

"I think Alex wants to get this put to bed so he can focus on having a great year, an All-Pro year this year," Craig said. "He doesn't want this dark cloud over him. It's really his time, and he understands the business. He knows it's a good situation."

Long booed by his home fans at Candlestick Park, Smith had only five interceptions last year as San Francisco went 13-3 to win its first division title since 2002. That was a remarkable turnaround under first-year coach and 15-year NFL quarterback Harbaugh — the NFL coach of the year — who declared his confidence in Smith as a winner from Day 1 when Harbaugh was hired away from Stanford in January 2011.

San Francisco went 6-2 on the road and won four of those games in comeback fashion — and Smith rallied his team from behind five times in all, not to mention a 36-32 victory against the favored Saints in the NFC divisional playoffs. Smith completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Davis with 9 seconds left to seal it after Drew Brees had put his team ahead.

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