On Sunday, ESPN reported the 49ers will attempt to trade quarterback Alex Smith in the offseason.

On Tuesday, Jim Harbaugh did little to dispel that report.

Will the 49ers put business aside and grant Smith his release, allowing a highly respected member of the organization to select his suitor in 2013?

“I don’t think any player has those wishes granted, that (are) under contract,” Harbaugh said.

After a long pause, Harbaugh added: “And everything’s different. Every scenario is unique. It’s certainly not something we’re going to delve into and get into specifics.”

Smith handled his painful demotion in November with class and didn’t fracture a united locker room when Colin Kaepernick was named the starter. Harbaugh acknowledged his feelings for the quarterback he championed throughout much of his two seasons as San Francisco’s head coach, but only hinted at another option besides a trade or release: The 49ers could keep him on the roster.

If Smith is on the roster on April 1, $7.5 million of his $8.5 million contract for the 2013 season will become fully guaranteed.

“I have great respect for Alex,” Harbaugh said. “Great personal friendship, togetherness with Alex. The team, we feel great about our quarterback situation. You can’t have enough good quarterbacks.”

As players cleaned out their lockers Tuesday, Smith wasn’t around during media availability. Safety Donte Whitner said he hoped Smith will find an ideal landing spot in 2013.

“Alex is a true professional, went through something tough, probably the toughest time in his career after coming off a successful season,” Whitner said. “I wish Alex the best. He was a great teammate, if this is his last time leaving.

“I know he’ll go and use the situation this year and what he’s been through to fuel him to go out there and get wins and push his team to the playoffs.”

Eric Branch is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.