For quarterback Alex Smith and coach Andy Reid, 2012 started with promise. For Reid, tragedy quickly occurred through the death of his son, Garrett. For Smith, a concussion opened a window for Colin Kaepernick to play — and eventually slammed the door on an unlikely eight-year career in San Francisco for a No. 1 overall pick who was never quite a franchise quarterback but never quite a bust.
They’re together now, and Smith says he and Reid share a common motivation.
“We’d love to stick it to everybody who thought we couldn’t do it, he and I included,” Smith recently told Nate Taylor of the New York Times.
Many think they will. Indeed, few 2-14 teams have ever had higher expectations. The Chiefs have six Pro Bowlers on the roster, along with a good quarterback and a coach who has proven that he can get more out of any given quarterback than most anyone else.
Except for maybe Smith’s most recent head coach in San Francisco, Jim Harbaugh. He and Reid are the best two now, and perhaps eventually two of the best ever, at maximizing quarterback talent and potential.
Reid made a quick play for Smith, who became the odd man out in San Francisco after Kaepernick took the Niners to the brink of a Super Bowl championship. The trade between the Chiefs and 49ers was an endorsement of Smith and at the same time an indictment of the current crop of rookie quarterbacks, given the Reid held the first overall pick and the second pick in round two.
Reid told Taylor it wasn’t the first time the 14-year head coach of the Eagles had tried to acquire Smith, conceding that Reid had called the 49ers “multiple times” about a deal while in Philly.
The fascinating nugget is buried in the story, with no signs of elaboration of follow up. When were the inquiries made? Before drafting Kevin Kolb in 2007? Before signing Mike Vick in 2009? After trading Donovan McNabb in 2010?
One thing we know is that Smith was available without trade compensation in 2012, and the Eagles opted not to pursue him. Instead, Reid stuck with Mike Vick (who had a large chunk of guaranteed money owed to him last year) and drafted Nick Foles.
In the end, the 49ers’ fallback plan after Peyton Manning chose the Broncos netted a second-round pick and likely a third-round selection in 2014 for San Francisco. (If the Chiefs go 8-8, next year’s pick upgrades to a second-round selection.) Regardless of how strongly Reid felt about Smith while with the Eagles, it’s clear that Reid felt very strongly about Smith in Kansas City.
And now Smith feels very strongly about proving that he’s far closer to franchise quarterback than he is to bust.