Harbaugh: Teammates have thrown Alex Smith under bus before

Jim Harbaugh says Alex Smith has “rare” character for wanting to prove to everyone that he can be a winner with the San Francisco 49ers when he’s been thrown under the bus by teammates in the past.

Although the coach was told to zip it by the NFL last month when it came to the free-agent quarterback, Harbaugh talked up Smith on Sunday when he was in the television booth for the San Diego Padres game.

He's a neat guy," Harbaugh told play-by-play man Dick Enberg, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area. "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."

Harbaugh has made it crystal clear the 49ers will be signing the quarterback when free agency opens. The quarterback has also publicly expressed his desire to return. When will that happen? Harbaugh told Enberg he expects a deal between NFL owners and players to be brokered in early July.

When that happens, and after Smith signs, Harbaugh can say all he wants to about the former No. 1 overall pick.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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