Alex Smith leaves muddled 49ers legacy

Alex Smith leaves muddled 49ers legacy
February 27, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Reports Wednesday indicate a deal is in place to send Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for future draft considerations. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Alex Smith is the definition of a polarizing figure in the Bay Area. There are those that have supported him all along and those that wanted Aaron Rodgers drafted from the beginning.

Over his eight years with the 49ers, Smith's local popularity has loosely followed the path of an inverse bell curve.

A. HIGH -- Following the team's worst season since 1979 (2-14), the 49ers used the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft to select Alex Smith, quarterback out of Utah. Fans had high hopes that his 21-1 career NCAA record would translate into the NFL.

B. FALLING -- In his first season as the 49ers starting quarterback, Alex Smith led the team to a 7-9 record.

C. LOW -- Alex Smith looked to have things figured out when he ushered a 2-0 start to the 2007 season, starting the year with a memorable comeback win over the Cardinals on Monday Night Football. But the 49ers went on to lose eight consecutive games and Seahawks defensive tackle Rocky Bernard's Week 3 sack changed the course of Smith's career. Smith suffered a grade-three shoulder separation that later required season-ending surgery. It cost him all of 2008 and condemned the 49ers to a season with Shaun Hill and J.T. O'Sullivan at the helm in 2008. Things didn't improve when Smith returned, though, as his career hit another low in 2010 when the 49ers began by losing their first five games. In the 27-24 Week 5 loss to the Eagles, Candlestick Park erupted when Smith's third-and-10 pass found wide open turf. Boos rained down on Smith as he left the field and a "We-Want-Carr" chant was audible through the game broadcast.

D. RISING -- Jim Harbaugh was hired in 2011 and the NFL lockout forced a marriage of convenience between free agent Alex Smith and the 49ers. Beginning with his offseason program dubbed "Camp Alex," Smith became Harbaugh's guy and led the team to a 13-3 record and its first playoff appearance since 2002. Smith threw for more than 3,000 yards for the first time in his career (3,144) and led an efficient 49ers offense with a league-low 1.1 percent of his passes intercepted. Smith's NFC divisional round win over the New Orleans Saints will go down as one of his crowning moments.

E. HIGH -- Alex Smith led the 49ers to a 6-2-1 record in 2013 before leaving the Nov. 11 game against the Rams with a concussion. Then he watched Colin Kaepernick run away with his starting job.

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Reports Wednesday indicate a deal is in place to send Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for future draft considerations. The deal can be made official after the March 12 free agency deadline.

It's been quite a roller coaster ride for No. 11 in the Bay Area. How will you remember Alex Smith? What is his legacy?

 

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