Awhile back, the Press Democrat reported that the NFL sent a notice to San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, telling him to ease up on public discussion regarding the team's free agents, namely quarterback Alex Smith. Harbaugh had been talking to the media every other day with some other form of praise about Smith, whether it be about the way he plays the game or the kind of person he is. Some of the claims seemed a little outlandish, but in an NFL offseason that forbids the face-to-face contact, the message was clear: Harbaugh wants Smith in a 49ers uniform in 2011.
So the league told him "Hey, stop talking about Alex Smith," and really, it was a dumb thing for them to do. It's not like it's tampering and it's not as though the two are talking face-to-face. Harbaugh is telling other people how he feels about a guy who is under contract with no NFL teams. The NFL has no right ... well, technically, they do, because they can create whatever rules they want to, but it's still silly on all fronts.
Either way, after a bit of a hiatus from his rants about not being able to quit Alex and taking flowers to Smith's wife, Harbaugh was back to being vocal about things. For one, he said that he expects this whole lockout business to end next month (that's July, folks), but beyond that wishful thinking, it was more of the Alex Smith love. Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area did a good job summarizing things:
"He's a neat guy," Harbaugh told veteran broadcaster Dick Enberg during the Padres' game against the Washington Nationals. "I'm really interested in him, in just the character of Alex Smith. He's been maligned by the hometown fans there. And his family's had to read a lot of that on the internet.
"And he's really even been thrown under the bus by his own team more than once. And the kind of character of a guy that would want to come back, prove himself with that same football team, that's rare kind of character. (It) probably falls somewhere in the endangered and extinct range. So we can win with that."
Good to see that Harbaugh notes Smith getting screwed over by the team at least a couple times. One has to feel like that kind of accountability should stay with the organization with the new regime, you don't need coaches calling out players when they're injured. Either way, Harbaugh plugs along in his pursuit of Smith, the probable starting quarterback in 2011.