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Alex Smith got a playbook despite being unsigned

Aldon Smith, Jim Harbaugh

Defensive end Aldon Smith, right, the first-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, holds up a jersey as he poses for photographs with head coach Jim Harbaugh at a news conference at the team’s training facility in Santa Clara, Calif., Friday, April 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)


Jim Harbaugh said over the weekend he still wants Alex Smith back on the team, and he’s confident that it will happen.

How confident? Harbaugh gave Smith the 49ers playbook on Friday despite the fact Smith is a free agent.

Matt Maiocco of points out teams usually don’t let players leave the building with playbooks at this time of year, much less unsigned players. But Harbaugh trusts Smith will return to the team and believes he’s the favorite to start in Week One.

“Well, Alex is going to definitely have the head start,” Harbaugh said. “He has played in the National Football League. He’s won games in the National Football League. So if I’m a betting man, I’m betting on Alex Smith.”

It’s an incredible gesture if you think about it. Smith could share the playbook with his next team, if he signed elsewhere.

“There’s some trust there,” Harbaugh said. “There’s faith there. I strongly feel Alex that is going to be back here, so I gave him the playbook.”

It makes you wonder if Harbaugh essentially knows Smith will be back.

(Note on picture: That is Aldon Smith, not Alex Smith.)