Alex Smith knows it can be an awkward dance. The good news is, he’s heard this song before, so he knows the steps.
The Chiefs quarterback admitted it was a little unusual for his team to have traded next year’s first-round pick so they could draft his eventual replacement, but promised to make things as normal as possible with Patrick Mahomes, while fighting to keep his job.
“I’m at a different place than the last time I dealt with something like this,” Smith said, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star. “I get it. If any of us were the GMs, this is, maybe the most timportant position in all of sports, and it would be crazy not to be stockpiling talent. You’d be nuts not to. So I get it, right? I’m going into year 13.
“But at the same time, that doesn’t change my focus, right? I feel like I’ve got a lot of years left in me and still feel like I’m getting better.”
Of course, the parallels to his time in San Francisco are natural. The 49ers drafted Colin Kaepernick in the second round in 2011, and Smith held him off until he suffered a concussion in 2013 and never got his job back. Kaepernick led the 49ers to a Super Bowl, and Smith was on his way to Kansas City shortly thereafter.
But Smith’s older (33) and wiser now, and he can also defend his play. While he’s not a dynamic stats machine, the Chiefs are 41-20 under his careful watch, and he fits what coach Andy Reid has always done. But having had it happen to him before, he sees what’s coming, eventually.
“I’ve kind of been asked that a lot, and people kind of try to, like, bring that up,” Smith said. “Obviously, they took a QB early, and that scenario and everything that comes with that is similar. Other than that, this is a completely different coaching staff, a completely different team. I feel like I’m a much different player. So all of those are very different.”
In San Francisco, the coach who pulled the ripcord on him hadn’t drafted him and was ready to play his guy. In Kansas City, the same coach and General Manager who acquired him also acquired the new guy, so there’s a built-in buffer.
The end result might not be any different for Smith, but the way he and the Chiefs will get to that point will at least be easier.