Kansas City Chiefs

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...

In huge season-opening win, Chiefs lose All-Pro safety for 2017 season

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AP

In huge season-opening win, Chiefs lose All-Pro safety for 2017 season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One of the biggest season-opening wins in Chiefs history came at the expense of their All-Pro safety.

Eric Berry ruptured his left Achilles tendon in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's 42-27 victory over the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, not only ending his season but leaving the Chiefs without one of the most visible and vocal leaders on their defense.

"You're not going to replace Eric Berry with another Eric Berry. That's not what happens," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who confirmed the team's initial fears in a conference call Friday. "But the guys know that Eric would be disappointed if they left off the accelerator at all. I think we'll be OK there."

Berry was hurt while covering Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski on a passing route. He hobbled at the end of the play and promptly sat on the turf, where the team's training staff began examining him. Berry did not appear to be in obvious discomfort, but it took a cart to remove him from the field.

The Chiefs have dealt with a rash of Achilles tendon injuries in recent years, including two sustained by Derrick Johnson. The star linebacker's latest occurred late last season, but he managed to return to the field by summer workouts and was a full participant in training camp.

Berry also has a history of overcoming serious hurdles in his career.

He missed most of the 2011 season after tearing the ACL in his left knee, only to start 16 games the following season. He also missed the final 10 games of the 2014 regular season while undergoing treatment for lymphoma, only to return to training camp and again play all 16 games the following season.

Berry was coming off arguably his best year in 2016, when he made 77 tackles, picked off four passes and returned two for touchdowns. He almost single-handedly won a game in Atlanta, and was a big reason why the Chiefs went 12-4 and won their first AFC West title since 2010.

His performance while playing under the franchise tag earned him a $78 million, six-year contract this past offseason, making Berry the highest-paid safety in the league.

"I'm on a bit of a low right now," Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. "I love him to death. He's our fearless leader, and to see him go down in the first game breaks your heart."

The Chiefs are deep at safety, though. Eric Murray played well after Berry left the game, while Daniel Sorenson - who fulfills multiple roles in the defense - could also play the position.

The game Thursday night also gives the Chiefs some extra time to assess options before playing their home opener against Philadelphia on Sept. 17. Reid said he expected new general manager Brett Veach to scour the waiver wire and inquire about safeties outside the organization as well.

"Brett's keeping his eyes open for things right now. That's what he does," Reid said. "He's always on top of that. We're just kind of seeing the different options there."

In the meantime, Reid said he expects Berry to continue to have a role on the team.

He broke down the defensive huddle even after leaving the game Thursday night, providing some energy for them when the outcome was still hanging in the balance, and Reid joked that Berry might get a head-start on a potential post-playing career by auditioning as an assistant coach.

"He had an opportunity to talk to the team last night after the game," Reid said, "and I know he'd be very disappointed if anybody hung their head or let that be an issue. And I thought the guys handled it very well after Eric got hurt. Our guys were able to kind of muster it up and keep the emotional football part of it in focus there."

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.