By Ryan Lack
Word on the street is a deal is all but done for Alex Smith to be traded from the San Francisco 49ers to an as of now unnamed team. The two leading candidates appear to be the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the Browns and Cardinals could be in the mix, as well, though we expect the latter two to be rumor.
As a lifelong 49er fan and, up until recently, a full-time supporter of Alex Smith, my emotions around this news are a bit conflicted. On the one hand, I’m really happy for the guy because, let’s be honest, he really did get screwed over by Harbaugh. It doesn’t matter if you agreed with the decision to replace Smith with Kaepernick or not; the way Harbaugh went about it was 100% wrong. Was his talent assessment right? It sure as hell appears like it was, as we watched Kaepernick take-over a good 49ers team, make them great, and lead them to their first NFC Championship win and Super Bowl appearance since 1994. The latter may not have worked out the way all of us Niner fans wanted, but it was clear Harbaugh made the right move.
In the lead-up to the quarterback switch, Smith had never looked better. He was leading the league in completion percentage and had convincingly moved himself out of that “game manager” bucket into “game-changer.” He was accurate, smart, good on the run, and simply didn’t make the same mistakes we were all used to watching him make earlier in his career when he went through three head coaches and seven offense coordinators in as many years. He finally had stability.
It is these attributes he will carry with him wherever he goes next and I wish him well, though I’ll add – don’t let the door hit ya on the way out, bro.
While Smith played the good soldier role very, very well throughout the season and for most of the 49ers run through the NFC playoffs, it was during the two-week lead-up to the Super Bowl where he lost me. It didn’t really shock anyone that Smith would want out after what happened to him, especially after having to sit idly by while his team took its season a step further than it did the year prior when he was under center, but the timing made him look immature and selfish, two things he definitely did not appear to be before. It was a great disappointment that he would allow something like that to leak, even if it wasn’t him that said it, the week of the Super Bowl. Talk about distraction.
So, with that, I bid Alex Smith adieu. Frankly, I don’t give a damn where he lands because he’s going to have another new head coach, another new offense to learn, and a whole set of skill position players to gel with before he can start climbing the mountain he nearly reached the top of two seasons ago. A lot of people have said the 49ers aren’t likely to send him to the Arizona Cardinals, a team in dire need of stability at the quarterback position, given the in-division rivalry. I say, why not? Bring on Alex Smith. I’d love to watch the Smith brothers rip him a new one twice a year. It would bring some closure to this Niner fan’s conflicted heart about a once beloved 49er figure.