‘Singing the Ballad of Alex Smith’

My pal, Karen Datangel, wrote a great piece on the Niners’ beleaguered QB:

Why don’t people take into account that he was also the victim of bad coaching under Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary and the seesawing of six different offensive coordinators? What about his injuries? Why can’t more people just appreciate that he’s seen it through all the good and the bad and still took everything with class and grace? He has still done more than any one of us could ever accomplish in our lives (Oh hey, look, that’s where my piece about criticism comes in!). I can’t defend him for the moments he truly was awful. I can’t deny that Kaepernick is the much more dynamic and exciting athlete and that he’s earned his praise and his spot as the new starting quarterback. I’m not Team Alex or Team Kap—I’m Team Niners. But I have admiration for Alex. My heart breaks a little bit knowing that if the Niners take trophy number six back to San Francisco, it would be as if he had absolutely nothing to do with the victory; or if he did, people would only remember him for how he came up way short in all the years past. Actually, he still was part of the six games the Niners won in the first half. It’s no use arguing that we would have never gotten this far if he was still our quarterback. The only thing we know is what actually manifested in the wins, the losses, and the one tie, and all hypothetical situations are not important.

I felt more compelled than ever to explain why I stand with Alex. He is a storied individual and a true team player who never let up in the face of adversity. To have this chapter of his story end as abruptly as it did re-injects the element of tragedy. But maybe it’s not the end. He could still have a Drew Bledsoe moment in New Orleans next Sunday. He could still earn a ring and ride a convertible to cheers and confetti along Market Street. He could even still wear red and gold next year and be a quality number two to Kap’s number one.

Karen effectively wrote the same piece I was thinking about writing. Good thoughts here.

I’ll admit that, at first, I was not an Alex Smith fan. In my mind, he was nowhere close to being Joe Montana, Steve Young, or, hell, even Jeff Garcia. I was ready to label him a bust. But the fact is he had a great year last year, and started off great this year before losing his job to a concussion. That said, I’ve wondered how this run has felt for him. He’s going to the Super Bowl, but it’s clearly Kaepernick’s show. There’s no doubt Kaepernick brings a dimension to the Niners’ offense that Smith could never offer, and the team’s been successful because of it, but this has to be beyond tough for Smith. I’m sure he’s ecstatic that the team is in the Super Bowl, but it’s not his team anymore, so it has to be bittersweet for him. After all, never mind Kaepernick’s abilities, it is sorta shitty and unfair that Smith lost his job. He was playing so well when he got injured; it sucks. You’re not supposed to lose your job because of an injury.

My prediction? Even if the Niners win, Smith’s days in SF are done.