NEW ORLEANS -- There was a report Monday that 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is planning to request his release within the next two months.
ProFootballTalk.com cited a "source with knowledge of the situation" in reporting that Smith wants to be released before free agency in March. The 49ers, however, could also trade or retain Smith.
Smith, who was replaced two months ago by Colin Kaepernick as the 49ers' starting quarterback, has not publicly stated those intentions, nor has his agent, Tom Condon. Although Smith was seen at the team hotel Monday afternoon, he was not available for comment.
Smith is in the first year of a three-year, $24 million contract he signed in March, and his $7.5 million salary for 2013 will be guaranteed if he's on the roster April 1.
Smith has declined in recent weeks to discuss his future and insisted he's fulfilling his backup role by preparing for Sunday's Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens.
Smith was enjoying a career-best season before sustaining a concussion Nov. 11 against the St. Louis Rams. Coach Jim Harbaugh has often stated that he promoted Kaepernick in place of Smith in the team's best interest, a message Harbaugh reiterated Sunday night.
But Harbaugh added that Smith hasn't wavered in his devotion to doing whatever he can to help the 49ers achieve their goal of winning the Super Bowl this season.
"It's been the same," Harbaugh said of Smith's approach since he was supplanted by Kaepernick. "He's prepared and been involved in the game planning and preparations. He has prepared himself as the starter each week. That's what he's done, that's what's we have expected of him and that what he's delivered."
It has reached the point where Harbaugh considers Smith an integral part of Kaepernick's seamless transition from promising young player to top-flight quarterback.
"He's another person to credit in Colin's success," Harbaugh said, "because Alex has really helped coach Colin, been right there at his side, sitting in meetings every single day.
"He coaches Colin now more than I do. That speaks volumes for the kind of person and teammate that Alex Smith is."
Staff writer Steve Corkran contributed to this report.