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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick praised former teammate and backup Alex Smith, now with the Kansas City Chiefs, in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News on Oct. 1. Kaepernick said Smith is “one of the classiest people” he’s ever met.
Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers‘ starting quarterback, commended Smith — his former teammate and backup who is now with the Kansas City Chiefs — in an interview with Cam Inman of The Bay Area News Group (via The San Jose Mercury News) on Oct. 1:
“Colin Kaepernick will be going head-to-head with Alex Smith again Sunday, and Kaepernick couldn’t commend Smith enough Wednesday about the last time they were competing for something.
“That would be back in November 2012, when Kaepernick officially supplanted Smith as the 49ers’ starting quarterback.
“Smith’s graceful exit from that storied throne hasn’t been lost on Kaepernick.
“‘One of the classiest people I’ve ever been around. Just an all-around great guy,’ Kaepernick said. ‘I don’t think anyone could have handled it better than he did.’
“The 49ers handled it well as a team, all the way to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. That’s also where it became obvious a few months earlier that Smith wasn’t getting his job back, as Kaepernick started ahead of a medically-cleared Smith for a Nov. 25, 2012 win over the (New Orleans) Saints.
“‘He definitely made things go a lot smoother,’ Kaepernick said. ‘The way he handled things, he didn’t turn it into a controversy in the locker room. That just shows the character that he has, not just as a player, but as a man.’
“Kaepernick says he’s remained in touch with Smith since a March 2012 trade that sent Smith to the Chiefs, but that they’re both busy now with their respective teams, both of which take 2-2 records into Sunday’s game at Levi’s Stadium.
“‘I really don’t get to face him. Our defense does,’ Kaepernick said. ‘But Alex has done a lot of great things in this league. He’s done a lot of great things to help me. Nothing but the utmost respect for him.’
“What’s the biggest thing he’s learned from Smith, the 49ers’ No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005?
“‘Just how he viewed the game, as far as defenses,’ Kaepernick said. ‘How to attack them; which routes are good vs. what defenses; and how to manipulate defenses.’
“Kaepernick wasn’t about to be drawn into a reporter’s question Wednesday as to whether he believes he indeed merited sticking with the 49ers instead of Smith.
“‘I’m not going to say that publicly because you’ll make it sound like something else,’ Kaepernick said. ‘But I do feel like I’m a good player, yes.’
“Kaepernick, a second-round draft pick in 2012, never hid his ambition to become a starter. But he also didn’t have to tell that to Smith.
“‘That’s not something you talk about,’ Kapernick said, ‘but no one comes in this league and says, ‘Hey, I want to be a backup.’ Not me, at least.'”
Other members of the 49ers, including head coach Jim Harbaugh, also spoke about Smith — their quaerterback nemesis in Week 5 — on Oct. 2, per the 49ers’ official website:
“I think we’re all aware that Alex has got a lot of strengths and understanding that he’s capable (of) throwing the ball, running the ball…We have great respect for his game.
“I have never seen Alex Smith not be good. Right from the time we were with him, how he’s playing now. He’s just always been a very good quarterback.
“(Our relationship) is very good. Anytime you do the very best you can, I know Alex did the very best he could when he played here and he did great. We felt the exact same way. And when you do your best, you look back and you feel good about what you accomplished. Very happy for his success. Not rooting for success for him this week, but always very happy for his success, almost all the time, for Alex Smith’s success. This week not included.”
San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis also praised Smith, according to 49ers.com:
“When the game gets going, we’ll have a back and forth…but my focus is always on the next play.
“I’m glad to see him doing well on a different team. I just don’t want to see him do good against us.
“Whenever a guy leaves a team and has the opportunity to play against them, they want to do well, do great.
“Alex does a great job of knowing where he’s going with the ball, he gets the ball out very fast, he’s very smart with it.”