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For his part, he directs all praise to Kaepernick, above and beyond his former understudy’s gargantuan athletic gifts.
"I think the thing I’ve been impressed with most is, not so much the playmaking–I knew that, I think guys around here knew that," Smith said.
"I think it’s the lack of young mistakes that’s really jumped out at me. Most young guys that come in, yeah, they show flashes and they can play good at times. But then they also seem to have those young moments as well–rookie moments and kind of bone-headed things.
"And he hasn’t done it, period. You know, he’s played good ball. Really played patient, played smart."
Smith said he will approach the next week-plus as he has the previous 10 weeks as Kaepernick’s back-up.
He’ll get ready to play in the game if needed, and he’ll be ready to help wherever he sees a chance.
But Smith will also be faced with a week-long slew of questioning during Super Bowl Week, all wondering the same thing:
What does it feel like to lose your job on an injury, and have your replacement turn into an instant icon?
Smith will just answer every question, I’m sure, like he answered them Wednesday: With patience and perspective.
At the end of his session, I asked him if, after all he has been through and all the games he has won recently, he could imagine himself accepting a back-up role next season.
It’s a possibility—the 49ers could theoretically pay Smith the $8.5 million he’s owed and keep him as the No. 2 QB, whether Smith wanted to stay or not.
But I doubt the 49ers would do that if Smith is determined to seek a new start.
"There’ll be a time to talk about all that stuff after this game," Smith said. "Like I said, for now, just concentrating on the game plan."
Really, all he can do is roll with it. Smith has been through so much, he knows you can’t plan; you can only deal with what comes next, whatever it is, and however it changes your career.
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