Being the competitor he is, Alex Smith was understandably upset to hear that he won’t be the starting 49ers quarterback on Sunday in St. Louis.
Earlier this week, coach Jim Harbaugh met with Smith and Colin Kaepernick, eventually telling both talented signal-callers that Kaepernick would get the starting nod for the third straight game. While Smith wishes he could be out on the field, he will be counted on to be a valuable asset and teammate for Kaepernick.
“This is such a great team, such a great group of guys in this locker room,” Smith said. “There’s something special going on. It’s a tough pill to swallow, for sure.”
It’s been easy to spot Smith the past two contests, as he’s often been helping Kaepernick on the sideline with the 49ers coaching staff, breaking down images of the game and talking strategy. Smith said he harbors no ill feelings towards Harbaugh, who had a tough decision to make between two quality quarterbacks.
“No resentment,” Smith said. “I don’t get to make those decisions, that’s what he gets paid to do. He’s the head coach. I play football, that’s what I’m going to continue to do. Continue to get ready and make the most of my next opportunity.”
Smith is in his eighth year of an eventful NFL career and has been an exemplary professional throughout. This situation is no different, as the veteran earned praise from Harbaugh for the way he’s handled it.
“All these decisions are difficult and you think through them the best you possibly can,” Harbaugh said. “Alex is a class act all the way. He’ll prepare as he is the starter and that’s what we would expect. And be ready to go in and play and contribute to this football team.”
Smith has excelled under Harbaugh’s guidance, leading the 49ers to a 19-5-1 record in the 25 regular season games that he’s started since 2011. He was also ranked in the top five of NFL quarterback rating at the time of his concussion against the Rams in Week 10, while he still leads the league in completion percentage (70 percent).
“It’s tough, “Smith said. “That’s why I said you kind of state your case with your play, and I felt like I’d done that. So in that sense, it is tough.”
But the 49ers have still looked impressive with Kaepernick at the controls in the past two wins, a 32-7 home victory against Chicago and last week’s 31-21 win at New Orleans. Regardless of who gets the call at quarterback, offensive coordinator Greg Roman feels lucky to have Kaepernick and Smith on his team.
“We’re in a very great situation,” Roman said. “We have two winning quarterbacks on our roster. They both compete hard every day to be the best they can be and help us win. That’s a good situation to be in.”
Tags: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Greg Roman, Jim Harbaugh
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