The latest twist in the career of Alex Smith takes him from being the starting quarterback of a Super Bowl contender to joining a team that’s coming off a 2-14 season.
That’s quite a jolt in four months, if you look at it that way. Yet compared with where Smith would have been if San Francisco had not traded him to Kansas City, this is an advancement.
He’ll be playing football, not watching football. And among the potential destinations for him, the Chiefs give the best opportunity for success in this phase of his career. In other words, if he had become a free agent, Smith should have chosen the Chiefs.
This collaboration of a former BYU offensive lineman and an ex-Ute quarterback could work wonderfully. Andy Reid, Kansas City’s newly hired coach, will give Smith an offensive scheme that suits him. Smith, who turns 29 in May, should be able to pick up where he left off in November, when he was one of the NFL’s most efficient quarterbacks.
That was before a concussion sidelined him and, ultimately, cost him his job as Colin Kaepernick took over and led the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
Obviously, Smith will not have the 49ers’ level of talent surrounding him, but the Chiefs are not as bad as that 2-14 record suggests. With better coaching and better quarterbacking, they’re capable of making the AFC playoffs in the next two seasons. That would be rewarding both for Reid, whose 14-year tenure in Philadelphia ran its course, and Smith, who believes his best years in the NFL are yet to come.
And it will be fun to watch them compete in the AFC West. Smith will have two annual meetings with San Diego safety Eric Weddle, his former Utah teammate, and Chargers coach Mike McCoy, another ex-Ute quarterback. He’ll also play every year in Denver, the closest NFL market to Salt Lake City.
Kansas City gave up a lot to get Smith, trading the No. 34 overall pick (early in the second round) in April’s draft. That’s a nice deal for San Francisco, which otherwise would have released him. It also shows that Smith has value — and good timing, considering the lack of QB talent available in the NFL or through the draft in 2013.