For the first time since 2004, the San Francisco 49ers depth chart at quarterback will not feature Alex Smith. At 4:00 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, Smith will be officially traded from the 49ers to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round draft pick.
Smith will join new head coach Andy Reid in Kansas City in trying to rebuild the Chiefs organization and bring them back to respectability in the NFL. The former Niners QB was tasked with same burdens when he was drafted No. 1 overall by San Francisco in 2005.
If you surround Smith with the talent on offense and the right head coach, one that is offensive minded, and that believes in the quarterback, he can flourish. Just look at what Jim Harbaugh did with Smith over the past two seasons. But Harbaugh, like Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary before him, decided to go in a different direction with a different quarterback. I wonder how long it will be before Reid does the same with Smith in Kansas City. Does Reid really think Smith can be a franchise QB for the Chiefs? Or is Smith just a holdover for a few seasons until a better quarterback becomes available for the Chiefs? Time will tell.
Speaking of time, Smith had plenty of ups and downs while he was in a San Francisco 49ers uniform. Here is a timeline of his high’s and low’s in The City. Best of luck to Smith in K.C. The team is now all yours Colin Kaepernick.
2005: The Future of the Franchise
April 23, 2005: 49ers selected Alex Smith with the No. 1 pick of the 2005 draft to become the team’s new franchise quarterback. Smith and Aaron Rodgers were considered the top-two quarterbacks available in the draft that year. Newly hired head coach Mike Nolan saw Smith as the better prospect over Rodgers.
July 26, 2005: Smith signed a six-year, $49.5 million contract with the 49ers. The contract included $24 million in guaranteed money.
October 9, 2005: Smith made his first career start at quarterback in the NFL against the Indianapolis Colts. San Francisco loses 28-3, while Smith completes 9-of-23 passes for 74 yards, four interceptions and five sacks. He finished the game with a QB rating of 8.5. Welcome to the NFL.
December 24, 2005: Smith recorded his first win as a starting quarterback with the 49ers. He led the victory over the St. Louis Rams, 24-20, by completing 12-of-16 passes for 131 yards and finished with a QB rating of 98.7.
Final stats for 2005: Seven starts (2-5) , 875 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 11 interceptions, 50.9 completion percentage, 40.8 QB rating and 29 sacks.
2006: Smith Starts For A Full Season
January 1, 2006 (Week 16 of 2005 season): In a game against the Houston Texans that was dubbed the Reggie Bush Bowl, Smith threw for his first career touchdown, a 14-yard pass to receiver Brandon Lloyd. The loser of the Texans vs. 49ers game was guaranteed the No. 1 overall selection in the 2006 draft. At the time, many expected Bush to be the first pick in the draft, no matter which team was making the selection. The Texans won, so to speak, but ended up drafting defensive lineman Mario Williams instead. The 49ers ended up with the sixth overall pick and selected Vernon Davis. Williams is no longer with the Texans, while Davis has…well, you know.
I was in attendance at Candlestick Park for the Texans vs. 49ers game. On the bus ride from downtown SF to the stadium, I remember sitting across from a group of Texans fans who were more excited about their team losing, just so Houston could draft Bush, than they were about their team winning. I will ever get how any fan can cheer for their team to lose, no matter the circumstances. Anyway, I was sitting in Section 41, a few rows back from the field, and the 49ers were driving down the field towards the end zone in front of me. After Smith connected with Lloyd for the TD right in front of the section I was in, I remembered thinking, ‘I just witnessed history by seeing Smith’s first touchdown pass of his career!’ However, the next seven seasons did not go the way I thought with Smith becoming the 49ers next franchise quarterback.
August 2006: With new offensive coordinator Norv Turner on board, Smith was named the starter for the 2006 season. He spent the off-season working with Turner and offensive players to improve on his rookie season.
September 2006: Even though the 49ers would loss two of their first three games, Smith threw for 814 passing yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. In the September 24, 2006, game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Smith attempted a career-high 46 passes and threw for 293 passing yards and one touchdown.
October 1, 2006: Ironically, Smith was brought down back to Earth in a 41-0 blowout loss to the Chiefs in K.C. The quarterback threw two interceptions and only had 92 passing yards.
October 8, 2006: Smith would bounce back in a big way the following week by completing 15-of-19 passes for 165 passing yards and a career-high three touchdown passes. The 49ers beat the Oakland Raiders, 34-20.
October-November, 2006: Despite how well Smith played in the first five games, over the next six games he looked very much like his was still a rookie. In those games he averaged 180 passing yards and threw for a total of five touchdowns and six interceptions, to go along with 14 sacks. Even with Smith playing like a rookie, the 49ers did have a three game winning streak in November.
December 14, 2006: Smith’s first statement game. Heading into the Thursday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Smith was criticized for not being a true franchise quarterback and that the 49ers made the wrong pick. However, Smith led the 49ers to his first fourth comeback win of his career in a 24-14 win over the Seahawks. With San Francisco down 7-3 going into the fourth quarter, Smith led the 49ers on three touchdown drives to pull out the victory. The final touchdown that gave them the win was Smith’s 18-yard rushing touchdown on a naked bootleg.
December 31, 2006: In the final game of the 2006 season, Smith helped eliminate the Denver Broncos from the playoffs after upsetting the team on the road, 26-23. In the game, Smith threw for 194 passing yards, one touchdown and led the 49ers to fourth quarter comeback for the second time in three games.
Final stats for 2006: 16 starts (7-9), 2,890 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 58.1 completion percentage, 74.8 QB rating and 35 sacks. Smith is the only quarterback in 49ers franchise history to take every snap under center in a season.
2007: The Free Fall
February 19, 2007: After Smith thrived under offensive coordinator Norv Turner in the 2006, it looked as if the quarterback would build on the success he had with his coach for the upcoming season. However, plans changed after Turner was hired by the San Diego Chargers to be their new head coach. Quarterbacks coach Jim Hostler replaced Turner as offensive coordinator to keep continuity with the offensive language and schemes. The continuity did not help Smith as he would be under his third offensive coordinator in three years. This was a starting of a pattern and not an anomaly at offensive coordinator for the 49ers.
September 10, 2007: In the season opener it looked as if the loss of Turner would not have any effect on Smith or the 49ers offense. Smith picked up right where he left off the previous season with another fourth quarter comeback victory. Against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football, Smith led the 49ers on a game-winning touchdown drive with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter. The TD drive included a 25-yard scramble by Smith that put San Francisco in the red zone. The 49ers won 20-17 and Smith finished with 126 passing yards and 36 rushing yards.
September 30, 2007: After a 2-1 record to start the season, it looked as if Smith and the 49ers offense had finally found their groove. Then was the game against the Seahawks in Week 4 and the infamous sack by Seattle’s defensive lineman Rocky Bernard on Smith. Bernard pile drived Smith into the ground and he suffered a grade three shoulder separation. The injury would keep him out for three weeks, before he returned. The shoulder injury would haunt Smith for years.
October 28, 2007: After missing three weeks, Smith returned from his shoulder injury against the New Orleans Saints, but he still looked hurt. The 49ers would lose to the Saints, 31-1. He would go on to start the next two games, but he would throw three interceptions and zero touchdowns. The 49ers lost all three games.
November 12, 2007: Ironically, Alex would make his final start of the 2007 season against the Seattle Seahawks. It was clear by the way he played in the game that he was still suffering from his shoulder injury. He passed for 114 yards and completed only 43% of his passes.
For the rest of November, Nolan and Smith had a public feud through the press. The head coach questioned Smith’s toughness dealing with his shoulder injury, while Smith said he was still hurt and he was not helping the team by being under center. Nolan also said Smith’s bad play at QB had nothing to do with his injury. In end both sides said there was a miscommunication, but the relationship between the two was already damaged beyond repair.
December 11, 2007: Upon further examination, it turned out Smith was really injured as he was placed on injured reserve and underwent surgery on his shoulder, which ended his season.
Final stats for 2007: 7 starts (2-5), 914 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 48.7 completion percentage, 57.2 QB rating and 17 sacks.