49ers quarterback Alex Smith recently strayed out of character to criticize the Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton in defending Smith’s own statistically-challenged performance. The remarks sparked a back-and-forth, with Panthers linebacker Jon Beason taking on Smith, and 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis defending his quarterback.
On Wednesday, Newton was asked if he wanted to respond.
“What do you think?” Newton said, via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer.
Receiver Steve Smith provided something a little more intriguing. “Cam’s my quarterback. Alex is from the University of Utah,” Smith, a former Ute, said. “I just smile. . . . I’m learning. You know that old adage, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?’ I’m not going to say anything at all because I don’t have anything nice to say.”
Newton recently didn’t have anything nice to say about himself, saying that he was a bad teammate in 2011. It’s hard not to wonder whether that was Newton’s response to Smith; instead of criticizing Smith, Newton criticized himself.
If that’s the case, Newton is well on his way to becoming the kind of mature, responsible leader that would even make the 49ers consider “evaluating” him, if he ever were available.