KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The last time Alex Smith had a concussion, he lost his job as a starting quarterback.
In 2012, when playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Smith was concussed and sat out a game. When he returned the follow week, his starting spot had been given to Colin Kaepernick and Smith never got it back. After that season, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs.
So, if anyone has reason to push things, it's Smith, particularly considering that under current circumstances both he and the Chiefs believe he doesn’t have a concussion. That’s why Smith acknowledged being conflicted about giving up his starting job, if only for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, to Nick Foles.
“It was a very different situation [with the 49ers]," Smith said. “When I went through that, my eyes were a big deal in that, as far as my vision. There were things there, things that were going on that obviously triggered that. You get put in [concussion] protocol.
“I don’t have any symptoms [now]. I haven’t had any of those issues. ... I’m a football player. I feel good."
The decision was made by coach Andy Reid, though he consulted with Smith. For Smith's part, his own history was only part of the concern. Foles is a favorite of Reid’s. When the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Foles in 2012, Reid was their coach.
The Chiefs offense worked better in last week’s game against the Indianapolis Colts when Foles was at quarterback. He and Smith threw roughly an equal number of passes, but Foles had four completions of 28 or more yards and Smith had none.
Reid has said that when Smith is ready to play again, he'll be the Chiefs' starting quarterback. Still, it's human nature for Smith to be uncomfortable with the situation.
On the other side of Smith's dilemma is the science. While he doesn't believe he has a concussion, he's not ignoring the facts of what occurred in Indianapolis. “Certainly something happened," he said. “Don’t know what it was. Don’t know what you want to call it."
Smith was removed from the game twice after taking hits. He staggered after getting off the ground the first time. He lay on the ground for a few uncomfortable seconds after the second.
All that remains from those hits, Smith said, was a nasty cut on his right ear, one that was covered by a bandage on Wednesday.
But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be taking a risk by playing against the Jaguars.
“There’s a lot of research that says [with] any kind of head trauma or whatever you want to call it, time to heal is obviously important," he said.
Smith passed the concussion exams both times in Indianapolis. But something this week tugged at him to back off.
“I’ve got three little kids," Smith said. “You only get one brain, as far as I know. I feel great, but the last thing I wanted was to go out there and what if something happens again? All of a sudden you’re asking different questions at that point. So I’m not ready for that. I don’t want to be thinking about any of that.
“I love playing football. I love my teammates. I love everything about it. The last thing I want to do [and] I think anybody wanted to see was to come back too soon and to see something happen again. Would that have happened? Maybe, maybe not. You just don’t know. This is everybody taking the side of caution and trying to make the best decision. It’s not black and white."