Smith: 'It's another preseason game, then again, it's not'
"I'm not on the inside anymore. It's to be expected. That is what it is." -- Alex Smith on Jim Harbaugh's comments that Smith is 'no longer a trusted agent' (AP)
"We'd love to stick it to everybody who thought we couldn't do it, he and I included." -- Alex Smith to the New York Times on he and Andy Reid's mindset (AP)
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If the change of scenery had taken place two years earlier, Alex Smith admits he might not have viewed his time with the San Francisco 49ers the same way.
And it's obvious he would not have been viewed the same way by the team's fan base, either.
Even as last season ended with the dual disappointment of losing his starting job due to a concussion and not stepping onto the field in the 49ers' Super Bowl loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Smith feels at peace with the way his eight-year run ended.
"If I'd left two years ago before (Jim) Harbaugh got there, I would've held onto a little more, regret or bitterness about what had happened," Smith said Wednesday over the phone from his new home.
"But the last two years, I really feel like I made my peace with the fans, the organization in general. The transition has been great, and I'm moving forward."
Smith, now the Kansas City Chief's starting quarterback, will suit up against his former team on Friday in the second exhibition game of the summer for both teams.
Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, had a largely disappointing and injury-plagued first six seasons with the 49ers. He got booed early and often throughout the 2010 season, and appeared ticketed out of town.
But, then, Harbaugh arrived and convinced Smith he could get a "fresh start" by remaining with the 49ers.
In his final two seasons with the 49ers, Smith completed 64.3 percent of his pass attempts with 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He was having his career year, with a 104.1 passer rating, when he lost his job to Colin Kaepernick after exiting the lineup in the ninth game with a concussion.
"I feel like the only thing I did to lose my job was get a concussion," Smith famously stated after the switch to Kaepernick became official in late-November.
Smith's final appearance at Candlestick Park was bittersweet. He entered the 49ers' regular-season final against the Arizona Cardinals in a mop-up role, and received a warm reception from the crowd.
He did not step onto the field for any of the 49ers' three postseason games. Yet, he said he does not allow himself to think about what might occurred if he had remained as the 49ers' quarterback for the entire season.
"That's not something I'm thinking about," Smith said. "You want to play at the time and think you should play. But my role changed. You know you're one play away from getting on the field.
"You don't allow yourself to get into that mindset."
It was obvious the 49ers would be unable to keep Smith and his salary on the roster as Kaepernick's backup. But things worked out just fine for three parties involved.
New Chiefs coach Andy Reid, long a silent admirer of Smith's, wanted Smith badly. And new Kansas City general manager John Dorsey believed Smith was the best option available at quarterback. After all, he was not blown away by any quarterback in the draft.
Kansas City sent the 49ers a second-round draft pick in the 2013 draft, as well as a conditional pick next year. If the Chiefs finish with an 8-8 record or better, the 49ers will receive Kansas City's second-round pick in 2014. Otherwise, the Chiefs will send the 49ers their third-round selection.
Smith said he did not know Reid thought so highly of him until he sat down with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke in early February to discuss his future.
"I met him (Reid) through the draft process, and it seemed like through the first eight years, we played the Eagles eight times or something like that (actually, six times)," Smith said. "I saw a lot of the Eagles that way. I'd heard little rumors here and there, but you never know what's true and what's not."
What's true is Harbaugh said this week he still considers Smith a friend but he is "no longer a trusted agent." The two communicate regularly, and Smith said he exchanged text messages with the 49ers coach a couple of weeks ago.
"I'm not on the inside anymore," Smith said. "It's to be expected. That is what it is. I still have a ton of great friends, and I still talk to coach and a lot of coaches there. But you move on. It's nothing I'm dwelling on or thinking about."
The 49ers considered Smith expendable after the emergence of Kaepernick. And the Eagles fired Reid after 14 seasons.
Smith recently told The New York Times, "We'd love to stick it to everybody who thought we couldn't do it, he and I included."
Smith said he wasn't speaking about the 49ers organization or anyone in particular -- just a collection of his doubters.
"Isn't that stating the obvious?" Smith asked. "Every athlete wants to do that. I'm no different."
Smith's family recently moved to the Kansas City. He is finding a new home with a team he believes is very talented. As it turned out, his first NFL home wasn't so bad, either.
He didn't always have the complete support of the fan base. And he might not have always had the complete support of the 49ers' coaching staff. And, certainly, his play was not always at a level expected from a 49ers quarterback following in a long lineage of great 49ers quarterbacks.
But looking back on it, he chalks it up as a good experience.
"I think for me, it was a positive," he said. "I'm not lying -- not b.s.ing. No question, I went through some different things, but it all led to me where I am today."
And that's to an organization and fan base that dearly wanted him.