- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. (AP) - No hard feelings on Alex Smith’s part that the San Francisco 49ers pursued Peyton Manning.

In the end, Smith is right back where he expected to be all along _ with the only franchise he has ever known.

The free agent quarterback signed his three-year deal with the 49ers at last on Wednesday. It will pay him $8 million per season with $16.5 million guaranteed, according to a person with knowledge of the contract.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the contract details weren’t made public, said Smith’s deal can pay him up to $33 million.

Smith signed at team headquarters a day after Manning was formally introduced in Denver after the 49ers pursued the four-time NFL MVP. San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh worked out Manning at Duke last week.

“Not offended at all. I would have relished the opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback job with Peyton Manning,” Smith said. “I feel I’ve been through way worse than this. Free agency is always going to be a little crazy, maybe this year more than most. You get to a point you stop worrying about that stuff.”

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. Smith said his talks with the Dolphins during a 5 1/2-hour meeting “seemed serious at the time.”

Smith said Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke came to see him to inform the quarterback they were going to pursue Manning.

“Obviously it was a little unexpected, but that’s part of the deal. This is free agency and this is the NFL, and those things happen,” Smith said.

Everybody involved seemed relieved Wednesday to move ahead with preparations for 2012. The 49ers last week added wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham _ and Smith is eager to get to work with them soon.

“Thanks for choosing the 49ers Alex. Sorry it was a tough week,” 49ers CEO Jed York said Wednesday 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,” 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.”

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