Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 5/30/12

It’s confirmed: Jim Harbaugh could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves. Or at least he’d try to if it was in the best interest of his football team.

The 49ers coach spoke to the media on Wednesday and attempted to spin the reports that said the team pursued Peyton Manning in March.

“There’s a perception out there, and it’s an erroneous perception, that we were flirting with Peyton Manning,” Harbaugh told the media, unprompted. “I keep hearing that over and over. It’s silly and it’s untrue. It’s phony. Even the perception that we were pursuing him — we were evaluating him.

“I’ve said all along that Alex Smith has been our quarterback. There’s no scenario, other than Alex choosing to sign with another team, that we would consider him not as our quarterback.”

Let me get this straight: Jim Harbaugh admits 49ers were looking at Peyton Manning, but the extent of their interest in him comes down to the way you define the words “evaluating” and “pursuing.”

The only way I can possible believe Harbaugh is if the 49ers flew to North Carolina to watch Peyton Manning throw strictly to gain leverage in contract negotiations with Alex Smith. Recall that Smith was sitting on a contract extension offer from the Niners but hadn’t signed it because he wanted better terms.

But hang on a second — Harbaugh admitted they were legitimately interested in signing Manning.

“There would be no circumstance under which we would have let Alex Smith go. Were we out there seeing and evaluating if we could have them both? Heck yeah. We evaluate and eliminate the possibility. For further evidence, we would not have given any player out there in free agency a sixth of our salary cap, and let six or seven of our own guys go. Hopefully that sets the record straight. I don’t want you to keep reporting the silliness and phoniness.”

I’m guessing this is just the latest mind game Harbaugh is playing to instill confidence in Alex Smith.

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