Of course, Alex Smith deserves his fair share of credit for playing on an even keel as quarterback of the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs.
But there’s another former member of the 49ers organization who has provided a big lift for Kansas City.
And we’re not talking about A.J. Jenkins or Chad Hall, either.
Cornerback Marcus Cooper was a part-time starter at Rutgers. The 49ers selected him in the seventh round of the draft. He showed promise in training camp, but did not make the final roster ahead of Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Nnamdi Asomugha, Tramaine Brock or Perrish Cox.
The 49ers released Cooper and – in a bit of a surprise – the Chiefs claimed him. The 49ers would have brought back Cooper to their practice squad if he had cleared waivers.
“We had some concern,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said recently. “Did we think there was a chance we could get him through? Yeah, we did.
“But we also knew . . . We talk about this all the time. Any time you expose a player, you have to do with the mindset that you’ve lost that player. That’s the only way you can do it. Because if you plan otherwise, you could be burned. Any time we choose to waive a player, we do it with the expectation that player is going to be lost. And if he’s not, then it’s a bonus. But you can’t do it the other way.”
In nine NFL games, Cooper has already put together a better career than what he experienced in college. Cooper has started three games and recorded two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. His forced fumble on Sunday on a short pass to Buffalo wide receiver T.J. Graham resulted in Tamba Hali’s 11-yard touchdown return, which gave Kansas City a 20-13 lead in the fourth quarter.