Posted by Ryan Wilson
New 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has been outspoken about his plans for quarterback Alex Smith, even though Smith will be a free agent once the lockout is resolved, and the NFL issued a memo last month to the team reminding them not to comment on players not on the roster.
Either Harbaugh just got around to reading said memo or he didn't give it much credence until now. Either way, he's toned down the Alex Smith cheerleading. According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Harbaugh avoided mentioning Smith by name during a Wednesday interview on "The Murph & Mac Show" on KNBR-680.
"On Sunday, Harbaugh, despite the memo, had spoken freely about Smith during an on-air interview with Padres announcer Dick Enberg during a Padres-Nationals game in San Diego," the Press Democrat's Eric Branch wrote Wednesday. "Harbaugh said Smith's decision to return to San Francisco, where he's been the subject of withering criticism, displayed 'a rare kind of character. It probably falls somewhere in the endangered and extinct range. So we can win with that.' On KNBR, however, Harbaugh was asked two Smith-related questions and, in response, spoke in general terms."
Harbaugh also spoke about wide receiver Michael Crabtree who, unlike Smith, is currently under contract with the 49ers:
"I've been around him a little bit," the coach said. "And Crab to me is a good guy and a good football player. Just some of the things lately kind of goes back to the analogy I gave a little bit ago, when you're kids and working it out and sometimes you get into some tussles and shirts get ripped and noses get bloodied, but that's part of figuring it out.
"I know he's a good guy. I know the other guys on our team are good guys. That's another interesting part of watching these guys figure it out. I know personally, when it comes to me, getting into quite few scrapes growing up. Most people I know and are friends with had some run-ins at some point in time. And, usually, you're better friends because of it. But, no, he's got the license and the ability. And from my experience begin around him, I think he's a guy who's about us and about the team being successful."
And we can't hold it against Crabtree that he didn't know that Alex is supposedly the 49ers starting quarterback in 2011. Last season, two Smiths -- Alex and Troy -- shared the starting duties, and both had run-ins with then-coach Mike Singletary. All that matters is that Crabtree isn't picky.
"Whoever the quarterback is, I'm 100 percent down with it and I'm ready to go," he said last week. "That's it."
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