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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) warms up before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in San Francisco, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Alex Smith has perspective, but not the 49ers’ QB job – and he understands
NFL » Former Ute QB has turned his demotion into a positive, for himself and his team
First Published Jan 24 2013 11:17 am • Last Updated Jan 25 2013 12:32 am

Alex Smith has won the job, lost the job, got hurt on the job, reinvented himself on the job, and experienced any number of other flips and flops as a high-profile 49ers employee.

You want perspective on the hurly-burly of the 49ers quarterback spot? Smith has got it—from every angle, with every emotion.

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Now, after losing his job when an injury opened the door for Colin Kaepernick, Smith is watching Kaepernick lead the 49ers into Super Bowl XLVII against Baltimore.

So, leave it to Smith to provide the best, sanest perspective on the whole phenomenon.

"Yeah, he got an opportunity, stepped up and made the most of it—that’s the deal," Smith said in front of his locker on Wednesday.

"I mean, that’s how I got my start in college, it was no different. Guy in front of me got hurt and that’s how I got my first start.

"So it’d be pretty hypocritical to be upset about it. It’s just the nature of team sports."

Let the record show that Utah incumbent starter Brett Elliott suffered a broken wrist in the second game of the Utes’ 2003 season, and in stepped Smith—who immediately beat Cal and Aaron Rodgers in Week 2, and never looked back.

Smith went 21-1 in two years as a starter, turned into the No. 1 overall pick in 2005, and Elliott ended up transferring to Division II Linfield College.

Sound a little familiar?


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Maybe that’s why Smith has been so gracious about the switch to Kaepernick, which coach Jim Harbaugh insists was not pre-planned and only happened because Smith suffered a concussion in the team’s ninth game this season.

Smith doesn’t have to love the situation, but he’s not about to complain about it, either—that wouldn’t be right for the 49ers, or for him.

"I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bittersweet–yeah, I want to be out there," Smith said.

"But at the same time, it’s a team sport and these are all my teammates. You go through so much together, especially a lot of these guys that have been here for a chunk of time now.

"If you can’t be happy for them then there’s something wrong with you, you know. For sure–if you’re asking me if I want to be out there. But I mean, that’s secondary to this."

Left tackle Joe Staley, one of Smith’s best friends on the team, said Smith was one of the happiest guys in the locker room after the 49ers beat Atlanta on Sunday.

That means something to everyone on the team, Staley said, not that it’s surprising coming from Smith.

"It’s awesome," Staley said. "It’s been documented how much I feel for Alex in the whole situation.

"But the kind of character—you talk about high-character guys, there’s no better example than Alex.

"We wouldn’t be in this situation without him, you know. He won a lot of games for us, he won games this season. A great teammate."

It’s obviously an awkward situation for Smith, who assuredly knows that even 49ers fans wonder if they’d have gotten this far if he was still the QB.

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