Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith finds himself potentially dealing with a little bit of deja vu. The Kansas City Chiefs have had success with him at the helm, but this past offseason they traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes. The hope is he can be their quarterback of the future, potentially setting up Smith for his final year in Kansas City.
Recently, he sat down with Graham Bensinger to discuss a whole host of topics. Smith will answer questions about his 49ers years when asked, but he usually does a good job not offering too much information. In his interview with Bensinger, he got into a little more detail on his time with the 49ers.
There are several videos, and I wanted to post a couple of them separately. The first one embedded has Smith talking about the struggles prior to Jim Harbaugh. He talks about the criticism he received from 49ers legends like Jerry Rice, he goes into the booing he received at home (he preferred road games at times), and we get some insight into the notorious “We Want Carr” game.
For those that don’t remember, the 49ers hosted the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football in 2010. The 49ers were scuffling along, having lost four straight games to open the season. The team was underachieving, and things came to a head in the fourth quarter. Smith fumbled the ball and it was returned for a touchdown. That was followed by three straight incompletions that resulted in fans chanting “We Want Carr!” over and over again. Mike Singletary was prepared to bench Smith for David Carr, and was getting into a frenzy yelling at Smith. Smith talked Singletary out of it and finished out the game.
In the video, Smith talks about Singletary yelling at him amidst the booing and just how dysfunctional everything was. He doesn’t go too much into Singletary, but did say, it “felt like a head coach who didn’t understand at all what it took.” Earlier in the video, Smith talked about general dysfunction throughout the building, particularly with how communication was such a mess.
I’ll have at least one more video, but this one is well worth a watch. We talk plenty about the Harbaugh years, and how things went then, but those few years leading up to it were something else indeed.
Fooch’s update: Bensinger’s PR people passed along some notable quotations:
Bensinger: “How many times were you booed by the home crowd?”
Smith: “…There definitely was a few year period where I was far more comfortable playing on the road, that I looked forward to road games... The pressure of the home game, fans turning on us - yeah that was a lot, for sure… Like it was bad. It was bad, bad ball that we were putting out there. Certainly leading up to the one that really obviously sticks out to me… it was a Sunday night game, playing against coach Reid… [It] felt like I’m battling and felt like I’m the guy that’s getting exposed out there; that there were a lot of other things that I’m taking the brunt of and… all the sudden I’m dealing with a head coach on the sidelines that’s in my face and screaming at me on top of fans chanting for the backup… and I was trying to please all these people right.
I felt like the head coach [Mike Singletary] didn’t understand at all what it took… I think there finally was a moment where you’re like, ‘Man... screw this. I’m tired of trying to please all these different people. I’m done with this.’ And really kinda being that culmination of all that and I’m just gonna – I’m gonna go play for my teammates and play for me and I’m not gonna worry about the rest of this stuff.”
Smith shares offers his perspective on the dysfunctional 49ers franchise he stepped into as a young QB drafted and even heavy criticism from Jerry Rice, who said Smith was not the QB of the Niners future:
Smith: “Yeah arguably the greatest football player ever… and yeah to be so vocal about me and clearly his lack of support and what he thought about me – you certainly heard… Those at certain times are hard to cancel out. So yeah you hear them… it’s tough.”
Bensinger: “... Three head coaches, seven offensive coordinators, 17 different starting wide receivers over the course of seven seasons… In order for anybody to have success you have to have stability, and you had none of that.”
Smith: “Yeah I mean and just the culture at the time in the building – those first six years for me - I knew that it was really dysfunctional. I knew this wasn’t the way that successful places operated. But when you’re a young QB... it’s hard to vocalize that. It’s hard to stand up and say that. It’s hard to make the change because… at that point, I don’t know what the right thing totally looks like - at the NFL level - because I haven’t been around it yet. I do know that the situation I was in was not the right way. I did know that. I knew that this was not healthy… Completely dysfunctional… Different people on different wavelengths, not a clear communication, not a clear goal of the entire building. Very separated, and even I think that all trickled into the locker room… it was a very separated locker room… Wasn’t a selfless unit, not everybody putting the team first. I mean I think all those things that come with dysfunction that are the opposite of what healthy organizations and teams environments have… So that was what made it really frustrating I think when you did have guys like Jerry [Rice] or guys like that were so vocal about it, because... I’m the one that gets put out there.”