No what-ifs for Alex Smith in facing St. Louis Rams


EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The details of what happened on Nov. 11, 2012 are probably a bit fuzzy for then San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. That was the day that Smith last played the St. Louis Rams.

It was also the day that changed Smith's career forever. Early in the second quarter, Smith took a hit from Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, a play that resulted in a concussion that didn't lead to his immediate exit from the game but did when the series came to its conclusion.

When Smith departed, he did not return to that contest or any of the seven that followed. Colin Kaepernick, the Niners' second round pick in 2011, replaced Smith and never looked back. Out of a job in San Francisco, Smith landed in Kansas City via an offseason trade in 2013.

As Smith and the Chiefs prepare for Sunday's game against the Rams, Smith said he hasn't given much thought to the game that altered the course of his career.

"I don't," Smith said. "I haven't given it any thought to be totally honest. Schematically getting ready to play these guys and Coach [Jeff] Fisher, that was the last game I was getting ready to play there [in San Francisco], obviously I remember that, but certainly has nothing to do with this game."

No, Sunday's meeting has nothing to do with what happened then but it's a notable matchup considering what's happened to Smith since he left San Francisco. As a former No. 1 overall pick, Smith's career looked to be headed toward disappointment before Jim Harbaugh arrived. Smith was finally getting things going under Harbaugh's guidance before the concussion landed him on the sideline.

Kaepernick would have likely claimed the job one way or another eventually but Smith's injury expedited the process. As it turns out, it's become a net positive for Kansas City and Smith.

Working under coach Andy Reid, Smith led the Chiefs to a 2013 playoff berth while throwing for a career best 3,313 yards and 23 touchdowns. It was a convincing enough performance that Kansas City signed Smith to a four-year contract extension that could be worth $68 million if he is able to play it out.

In six games this season, Smith is on pace to post similar numbers with 1,270 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions for a rating of 91.0. Fisher has come away impressed with Smith's work since relocating.

"Alex is playing very, very well," Fisher said. "Alex has deceptive speed. He can pull the ball down, run for big plays, is making really good decisions. They've done some amazing things with him as far as timing's concerned. That ball's coming out and it's accurate and they put a lot of stress on your defense by the way they disperse the receivers."

Almost two years after it happened, the details of that fateful day aren't really important. Whether he can remember it or if he simply chooses not to, one can understand. It all worked out in the end.

"It's been great," Smith said. "Now I feel like I've been here a while in football years, all last year. This is home."