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Friday, March 1, 2013
Colin Kaepernick praises Alex Smith

ESPN.com news services

Colin Kaepernick had nothing but praise for the man he replaced as the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

In an interview with the NFL Network, Kaepernick said Alex Smith will thrive no matter which team he plays for while also hailing him as a great teammate and teacher. The 49ers have agreed to trade Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs, a deal that cannot be made official until March 12.

"Of course, nothing can be finalized yet. Whether Alex is with us or he's somewhere else next season, he's been a great teammate to me," Kaepernick said. "[He's] been a great friend, a great mentor. So anywhere he goes, or if he's still with us, he's gonna be successful."

In just his second season out of Nevada, Kaepernick took over as the 49ers' starting quarterback after Smith went down with a concussion in Week 10. With Kaepernick possessing an explosive run/pass element to his game, coach Jim Harbaugh opted to keep him as the starter even after Smith was cleared to return.

Kaepernick said Smith, who lost his job despite completing more than 70 percent of his passes and owning a QB rating of 104.1, offered him valuable advice to succeed.

"I think the biggest thing with Alex is he was always in my ear, making sure I was seeing the defense," Kaepernick said. "Did I see safeties do this? Did I see the rotation? Did I see things like that? [He was] just making sure I have mental clarity when I step on the field."

As Smith watched, Kaepernick helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl, where they came up just short against the Baltimore Ravens. Kaepernick was especially effective in the playoffs, throwing for 798 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 264 yards and three scores.