The San Francisco 49ers re-signed quarterback Alex Smith to a three-year contract on Wednesday after the National Football League (NFL) team was spurned by Peyton Manning.
The 49ers were believed to be one of three teams in serious contention for Manning's services but when he agreed to a deal with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday, San Francisco moved quickly to solidify their quarterbacking position by extending Smith contract.
"I'm glad this is finally done. For me this was the plan all along," Smith said on a conference call.
"I guess I never really felt like a free agent. This was the plan to come back here. It's done now and I'm happy about it."
The often-maligned Smith enjoyed a breakout campaign last season leading the 49ers to a 13-3 record, the NFC West division crown and a trip to the NFC Championship game where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
The first overall pick in the 2005 draft, Smith started all 16 regular season games and two playoff contests last season, setting multiple career passing marks, completing 273 of 445 passes for a career-high 3,144 yards with 17 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
Despite his performance, the 49ers were in hot pursuit of Manning, leaving Smith to audition for several teams, including the Miami Dolphins.
But with Manning off the market the 49ers signed Smith to a three-year deal worth $8 million a season according to local media reports.
Smith said he was told from the outset about the 49ers pursuit of Manning and insisted there were no hard feelings although he admitted to being a bit surprised by the team's interest.
"Obviously it was a little unexpected but it is part of the deal, this free agency and this is the NFL and those things happen," said Smith. "Not offended at all.
"This is my job. I feel like I've earned it. I feel like I've earned the right to compete for it."
Smith returns to a team that has added some significant offensive weapons in the form of veteran receivers Mario Manningham and Randy Moss during the protracted negotiations with their quarterback.
"He's Randy Moss, he's got a skill set that is totally unique to himself," gushed Smith.
"He's a special player, we've all seen what he has been able to do over the years and I look forward to throwing the ball to him."
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; editing by Julian Linden)