SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Alex Smith could have divided the San Francisco 49ers' locker room when coach Jim Harbaugh went with Colin Kaepernick, then in his second season, over the the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 draft in Week 10 of the 2012 season.
Smith was initially sidelined with a concussion – should starters lose their jobs due to injury? – so he could have railed and whined and recruited guysto his side. Instead, he remained silent and put on a good face.
“I actively tried to be a good teammate and do what was right,” Smith, in his second year as the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday afternoon. “I felt like, coaches coach and they have to make their decisions and do it, and players play and those are things outside of my control and this is a team game and I wasn’t going to put myself or my situation ahead of any of that. I know I said that at the time and I still feel the same way and no one’s bigger than the team.
“So that certainly was my frame of mind.”
Kaepernick acknowledged as much in the 49ers’ locker room.
“I mean, one of the classiest people I’ve ever been around,” he said of Smith. “Just all-around great guy. I don’t think anyone could have handled it any better than he did.
“I think he definitely made things go a lot smoother. I mean the way he handled things didn’t turn it into a controversy in the locker room and that just shows the character that he has as, not just a player, but as a man ... did he want to be on the field? Yes, but he wasn’t going to let that get in the way of what the team was trying to do.”
So what did Kaepernick glean from Smith in their two years as teammates?
“Just how he viewed the game as far as defenses,” Kaepernick said, “how to attack them, what routes are good versus what defenses and how to manipulate defense.”
With Kaepernick as the newly installed starter, the 49ers went to the Super Bowl, falling to the Baltimore Ravens, while Smith was traded to Kansas City.