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Imagining the Post-Game Handshake between Jim Harbaugh and Alex Smith: The Preseason Edition

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As told by Ernest Hemingway.

USA TODAY Sports

It was a tight game, which means a fine game. The competition was good and the hits were hard like he always remembered them as a kid, the way the pads would crack. The old players always led with their heads until they were numb. Then they led with their heads some more.

He was happy because his team won a close game. The game didn't count. But this was a lie. All games count. In this game, he threw his headset a lot. He could judge a good game by how many times he threw his headset. After his team won this game, he threw his headset again. But this time he threw it because he was happy.

And then he was running onto the field. He pulled his shirt out of his pants. He pulled them out a lot, jumping with his players. Then, Alex Smith was there.

Alex played a fine game, a good game. He marshaled his forces up and down the field, handing off and throwing the ball. The o-line was sloppy, which made Alex look sloppy, but a coach knows differently. Alex played a fine game.

But the excitement was too great, and he reached for Alex's hand with his own hand -- disfigured in war, scarred from his own days of marshaling the players. His hand came in and crushed the hand of Alex. Alex's hand was small, and maybe he would fumble like he did as a rookie after this handshake. And his other disfigured hand wrapped around the back of Alex and slapped him. Just like he slapped Jim Schwartz, that bright boy. Jim Schwartz was a bright boy and a fool.

But Alex did not run for him like Jim Schwartz. Alex Smith just stood there and stared ahead, sad, wanting somebody to love him. But nobody would love him.

Alex Smith looked down at his bicep. It had no tattoos. He kissed it anyway.