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San Diego native Alex Smith laments Chargers' move to L.A.

"I'm trying to see how many times I don't say 'San Diego' this week," Alex Smith said of his favorite team growing up. Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- A San Diego native, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith grew up a Chargers fan rooting for the team during its Super Bowl run after the 1994 regular season.

"Absolutely," he said. "There were some good years. I remember the Super Bowl very well. There were a lot of good years there growing up. Junior Seau, Stan Humphries, Ronnie Harmon -- I remember a lot of good years as well. I definitely grew up a Chargers' fan.

"I was obviously very disappointed with the actual Super Bowl game, but nonetheless as a Chargers fan it was a pretty good season."

With the help of high school teammate Reggie Bush, the San Diego native led Helix High School to two San Diego California Interscholastic Federation section championships played at Qualcomm Stadium.

Smith also led Utah to a win against San Diego State at Qualcomm Stadium in his final year in college.

Smith, 33, will face his former hometown team as the Los Angeles Chargers for the first time. He's 5-3 all-time against the Chargers.

"I'm trying to see how many times I don't say 'San Diego' this week," Smith said during a conference call with Los Angeles-area reporters. "It will be hard going up there. So yeah, this will be new. I'm so used to and comfortable with going to San Diego and playing at Qualcomm, or whatever it's called now.

"This will be a new stadium and a new deal. So I just have to handle that. It's a small adjustment, but I'm going to try not to slip up a ton this week."

Smith's playing perhaps his best football as a pro, with 619 passing yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions and an impressive 77.8 percent completion percentage in wins over the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.

Smith's 134.1 passer rating is second in the NFL. The Utah product said the Chiefs drafting quarterback-in-waiting Patrick Mahomes in the first round of this year's draft has not fueled his hot start to the 2017 season.

"I don't need any extra motivation," Smith said. "If you did, that would be a problem. So no, it's not demoralizing.

"If I were a GM, it's one of the most important rooms in sports. It's one of the most important, impactful positions in sports. You touch the football on almost every single play. And you impact the game more than anybody, so you'd be crazy not to stockpile talent."

With the Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos all sitting at 2-0 and the Chargers six points away from being undefeated, Smith said it's hard to argue the AFC West is not the best division in football.

"It's to be expected," Smith said. "I've probably thought it for the last couple years. Certainly that's probably more for the pundits to argue over, but this is about as good as it gets.

"I think if you look top to bottom -- the parity, the physicality, the rivalries, and the history of each rivalry -- if you look at the caliber of play over the last, couple years, I think these last two years are a reflection of that as well."

Smith will face a different looking defense schematically in years past, with departed Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano a defensive assistant with the Raiders and Gus Bradley taking over the reins for the Bolts defensively.

"They can mix it up," Smith said. "But they play fast. They're a physical group. They know what they're doing; there's not many MAs [missed assignments]. They rarely get tricked. Their eyes are all on a good spot.

"They're well coached, like I said. And I think when all 11 guys are on the same page, good things happen. And certainly that's what is going on with these guys right now."