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Niners' Harbaugh considers Smith as elite as any QB in game

What is it about putting together the words "elite" and "quarterback" that makes people lose their minds?

Niners coach Jim Harbaugh is preparing to face the New York Giants and quasi-elite quarterback Eli Manning this weekend, but he took time Wednesday to nominate an unlikely candidate for the exclusive (and highly imaginary) Elite QB Club.

In Harbaugh's mind, Alex Smith is among the game's very best signal-callers.

(Like we said, it's an unlikely candidate.)

"He's every bit the elite quarterback as there is playing in the game right now," Harbaugh said, according to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Before you ask if Harbaugh kept a straight face as he said this, we offer you his (presumed) argument. Through eight games, Smith has been quite efficient for San Francisco. The former No. 1 overall draft pick has thrown for 1,467 yards and 10 touchdowns with just two interceptions. His passer rating of 98.7 is good for sixth in the league.

"I appreciate all the talent that he has and what he brings to our team," said Harbaugh, who also believes Manning to be elite. "There's evidence however you want to pick his performance apart. He's playing at a very high level."

Smith clearly is Harbaugh's guy -- the coach vouched for him going all the way back to the lockout. But elite? Either this is a case of blind loyalty, or Harbaugh's definition of the word is very different than ours.

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