49ers plan to bring back QB Alex Smith for 2012

By JANIE McCAULEY | January 2, 2012 | 4:37 PM EST

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) drops back to pass during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Coach Jim Harbaugh has told 49ers quarterback Alex Smith the team plans to re-sign him beyond this season.

Smith, the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick out of Utah, received a $4.9 million, one-year contract as a free agent last July after the lockout — when many, including Smith himself, figured he'd be headed elsewhere following six up-and-down seasons. He has thrived under Harbaugh, a former NFL QB.

The 27-year-old Smith has thrown for 3,150 yards and 17 touchdowns with only five interceptions for the NFC West champion Niners (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.