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Mr. Smith Goes to Kansas City

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers warm ups against the New York Giants during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers warm ups against the New York Giants during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California

It’s not easy to be Alex Smith, the San Francisco 49er-turned-Kansas City Chief.  

Less than a year ago, he was flying high. Coming off his best NFL season ever in 2011, one in which he had a passer rating of 90.7 and led the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game, he seemed to be a quarterback who was entering his prime.  

It was a long time coming, to be sure. Great things were expected of Smith after he was the first player selected in the 2005 draft, but the ensuing years were marked by injuries and losing. To 49ers fans, he looked more like the second coming of Elvis Grbac than Joe Montana.

But as the 2012 season began, everything was falling into place. He had a hot hand from the get-go, throwing 12 touchdown passes against only five interceptions in his first eight games. And even when he suffered a concussion in the ninth game against the St. Louis Rams, his future seemed secure. After a couple weeks on the sideline, he would surely pick up right where he left off.

That’s how it seemed, anyway, until his backup, Colin Kaepernick, quickly established himself as one of the most dynamic young players in the NFL. Through no fault of his own, Smith never got back on the field. Clipboard in hand, he watched helplessly as Kaepernick led the 49ers to the NFC West title and, ultimately, the Super Bowl. The season turned out to be a dream come true for everyone in 49ersland except Smith. Talk about being cursed.

The final indignity occurred this week, when the 49ers traded Smith to the Chiefs—the same Chiefs who, at 2-14, tied for the worst record in the league in 2012. Reportedly, the 49ers will receive a second-round and a mid-round pick for Smith. In other words, San Francisco traded him for the equivalent of a ball bag. The deal won’t become official until March 12, but we already know this much: Smith, as usual, came out on the losing end.