The San Francisco 49ers are in the midst of their Super Bowl preparations, which means the national media is coming out of the woodwork to hit on every story we have been talking about for months now. That of course includes the Alex Smith-Colin Kaepernick narrative. While the story has been discussed for much of the last two months, most of the time it focused on Jim Harbaugh's decision and Colin Kaepernick's subsequent play.
This week has seen the narrative move toward some coverage of Alex Smith. That includes what his role is like over the next ten days and what his future holds once the season ends. I've seen a lot of articles and tweets from the media that seem to be either feeling bad for Alex Smith or poking fun at Alex Smith for his situation.
Either way, few national media have been getting the real narrative that should be promoted. Fortunately there are some who get it. Sunday night after the 49ers beat the Falcons, Yahoo! Sports' Les Carpenter had an article about how the decision by Jim Harbaugh has now looked like an easy one. Although it focused on Kaepernick early on, the second half of the article had some great content about Alex Smith's role as a teammate and veteran quarterback.
Everyone's ignored Alex Smith ever since Kaepernick went and took his job, yet no one might have done more to get the kid prepared than Smith. Chryst knows. He sees it in the meetings - those tiny cloistered sessions where it's just Chryst, Smith, Kaepernick and maybe two other quarterbacks. He's watched Smith push Kaepernick to be better. They study plays together, they identify defenses together. When Kaepernick is unsure of something, Smith is instantly there.
"I think Alex is wired that way too," Chryst said.
Then he paused.
"No one wanted to win this game more than Alex," Chryst said. "It's who Alex is."
"It's a unique gift that Alex has given to Colin," he said.
I bring this up now in part because Alex Smith met with the media at his locker on Wednesday and had plenty to say on the subject. He is far too modest to talk about what he has done as a teammate, but he still had some interesting comments on several topics. Thanks to Tim Kawakami for a quick transcription of the session.
When asked about how it feels to be going to the Super Bowl even though he is no longer the starting quarterback, Smith hit the nail on the head:
For one, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a little bittersweet. Yeah, I want to be out there. That's what you work for. Coming into the season, that's what I was thinking about-that was the mindset, that was the goal for me.
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.
He was asked about Kaepernick's development and what impressed him about it:
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.
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. Playing good football. So I've been impressed most with that. The consistency of that.
One of the more interesting comments came when Smith was asked about whether his confidence was shaken by this whole process.
Not at all. It's the nature of sports, you know? Yeah, he got an opportunity, stepped up and made the most of it. That's the deal.
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.
Alex Smith gets it. Plain and simple. While Kaepernick's on-field execution has been essential to the 49ers success, Smith's handling of his demotion can't be understated. All indications are that he has done everything to help Kaepernick succeed and improve. I don't think you can ask for a whole lot more from Smith in this situation. Whether he plays with the 49ers ever again or not, if the 49ers win next Sunday, Smith will have earned that Super Bowl ring.
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