Alex Smith

Alex Smith: First six years with 49ers 'really dysfunctional'

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AP

Alex Smith: First six years with 49ers 'really dysfunctional'

The 49ers selected Alex Smith No. 1 overall in the 2005 draft.

From 2005 to 2010 (he missed the entire 2008 season), the 49ers went 19-31 over Smith's 50 starts.

He completed 57 percent of his passes and threw 51 touchdowns against 53 interceptions.

His play drew much criticism -- including harsh words from Jerry Rice.

"Arguably the greatest football player ever ... to be so vocal, doubt me, clearly his lack of support and what he thought about me -- you certainly heard," Smith recently told Graham Bensinger. "Certain words -- those are hard to cancel out. So yeah, you hear 'em. You know they're there. It's tough."

Bensinger: "You're sounding like a politician."

Smith laughs out loud.

Bensinger: "Does it piss you off?"

Smith: "I knew how dysfunctional the work environment I was in at the time was ... the culture at the time in the building, those first six years for me. I knew that it was really dysfunctional. I knew that this wasn't the way that successful places operate."

Then, Jim Harbaugh arrived and revived Smith's career.

But Smith lost his job in 2012 after sustaining a concussion, and was traded to the Chiefs.

He was a Pro Bowler in 2013 and 2016 and led Kansas City to the playoffs in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

In Week 1, he completed 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns as the Chiefs stunned the Patriots in New England.

In June, Kansas City traded up and took quarterback Patrick Mahomes with the 10th overall pick...

For the 2017 Raiders, there is no longer a clear path to triumph

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AP

For the 2017 Raiders, there is no longer a clear path to triumph

The good news for the Oakland Raiders in their quest to be considered a worthy rival to the New England Patriots is that the Patriots showed all their vulnerabilities Thursday night. In fact, they looked a lot like we think the Raiders will – long on points, almost as long (or worse) on points allowed.

But the bad news for the Oakland Raiders is who did it to them, and how. The Kansas City Chiefs and their allegedly-soon-to-be-past-it quarterback Alex D. Smith are suddenly a more intrepid team and decidedly more difficult to defend. Smith managed Thursday’s 42-27 win in Foxborough in a way he has rarely managed a game, and the result was a performance that not only diminishes the Patriots but elevates the Chiefs.

In other words, the hard part of the Raiders’ journey just got about 1,500 miles closer to home.

True, there is much to be determined between now and throat-cutting time. The Chiefs will have their befuddling moments, and so will the Raiders and Steelers and Broncos and Ravens and whatever hot mess comes out of the AFC South. But all that means is that there is no longer a clear path to triumph. Every game just got harder because the teams who have legitimate aspirations to dethrone New England have a greater sense of belief, as in “The Chiefs were trying to lose their quarterback for something newer, and it turns out he could be a badass after all.”

And any team with a quarterback is by definition a contender.

So it’s happy days in Oakland (and Pittsburgh and Denver and Baltimore and, of course, Kansas City). Now the Swords Through The Head set out for the scary new American frontier, Nashville – the edge of the war with a new and far more vengeful weather that has decided to wreak its “Ain’t No Global Warming, Eh” wrath.

Either way, strap in, lads. Your pursuit of the crown just got easier, and harder, all in one night.

Stunner: Smith, Chiefs shock defending champion Patriots to open 2017 season

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USATSI

Stunner: Smith, Chiefs shock defending champion Patriots to open 2017 season

BOX SCORE

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — There were big plays all over the field. The Chiefs, not the Patriots, were making them.

Alex Smith threw two long touchdown passes and rookie Kareem Hunt, after fumbling on his first NFL carry, scored three times to help Kansas City stun New England 42-27 on Thursday night in the season opener.

Coming off their sensational Super Bowl rally to a fifth Lombardi Trophy, the Patriots faded badly in the second half. A raucous sold-out crowd of 65,878 celebrated the unveiling of yet another championship banner, and there was plenty of talk about Tom Brady leading them to a 19-0 record.

After Week 1, though, they are winless.

It was the first time the Patriots lost at Gillette Stadium when leading at halftime, a span of 82 games. They were no match for the Chiefs in the last two periods.

Tyreek Hill scored on a 75-yarder and Hunt put the Chiefs in front with a 78-yarder to punctuate Kansas City's charge after trailing 17-14 at halftime. Hunt also had a 58-yard scamper and finished with 141 yards rushing and 98 receiving. Hill had 133 yards through the air, and Smith went 28 for 35 for 368 yards and four touchdowns.

Brady, the 13th quarterback to start an NFL game at age 40, didn't look too spry. He struggled mightily in the second half and didn't throw for a touchdown, finishing 16 for 36 for 267 yards.

Patriots newcomer Mike Gillislee scored on three short runs, becoming the first player since Terrell Owens of Philadelphia in 2004 to score three touchdowns in his debut with a new team.

And Kansas City aided the Patriots' cause with 15 penalties for 139 yards. Yet, in the end, the Chiefs looked like world-beaters.

SHORT YARDAGE

New England failed twice in the first quarter on short-yardage runs, by Gillislee and Super Bowl hero James White, and again in the fourth period, by Gillislee. If anyone proclaimed the Patriots were missing RB LeGarrette Blount, who scored 18 TDs last season and was a beast in such situations, well, Gillislee, who came from Buffalo as a restricted free agent, ran in for a pair of 2-yard touchdowns and a 1-yarder.

ROGER, ROGER

Not only did the crowd revel in the video highlights from the Super Bowl, the fans booed vigorously when Commissioner Roger Goodell was shown talking on the sideline Chiefs owner Clark Hunt during warmups. A website distributed thousands of towels featuring Goodell's face adorned with a clown nose, and many fans also had T-shirts with the caricature. Goodell watched the game from a suite, but not with Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

INJURIES

Kansas City's star safety Eric Berry was carted off with 4:56 remaining with an undisclosed injury.

The Patriots lost perhaps their best defensive player, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, in the third quarter with a knee injury. His absence showed on Hunt's long TD reception. ... WR Danny Amendola left in the fourth quarter with a head injury. He's projected as New England's slot receiver with Julian Edelman out for the season.

UP NEXT

Chiefs: Host Philadelphia on Sept. 17.

Patriots: Visit New Orleans on Sept. 17.