Alex Smith Speaks out on Being Benched for Colin Kaepernick

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2012

We'd all be pretty ticked off if we were in Alex Smith's shoes.

Fully recovered from a concussion he suffered against the St. Louis Rams in Week 10, Smith is no longer the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle:

#49ers Harbaugh says Colin Kapernick will start Sunday.

— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) November 28, 2012

While that news came out earlier this week, Thursday marked the first time that Smith has addressed the media since being told of head coach Jim Harbaugh's decision.

"I mean, it sucks. You state your case with your play, and I felt I did that. I feel like the only thing I did to lose my job was get a concussion," Smith told reporters (h/t CSN Bay Area).

Smith has a point. Prior to going down with the injury, Smith had led the 49ers to a 6-2 record, completing 70 percent of his passes for 1,731 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Those aren't earth-shattering, record-setting numbers, but they aren't awful either—and you can't really argue with a 6-2 record.

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Smith doesn't regret telling the team about his injury, nor does he bemoan the fact that the new attention being given to concussions by the league may have ultimately cost him his job:

"No, I'm not looking back on that (telling his coaches)—no, no. I think it's a good thing that more and more is coming out about it (concussions). I don't think that's a bad thing."

While some, including Bleacher Report's NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey, believe that Smith ultimately losing his job due to a concussion could set the league's attempts to stay on top of head injuries back years, Smith isn't so sure:

"I don't know. It's a good question. I'm not sure. I mean, that's kind of the deal with all injuries. The thing with the concussions and the brain, I think we're going to be finding out a lot more in the years to come."

Whether this ultimately hinders the league's efforts to eliminate concussed players from taking the field, Smith is understandably disappointed in the team's decision:

"This is such a great team, such a great group of guys in this locker room. There's something special going on. Yeah, it's a tough pill to swallow, for sure."

You can't blame him for that—or for feeling like ESPN's Jemele Hill opines Smith might right about now:

Alex Smith must feel like the old man villain from Scooby Doo. "And I woulda kept being the QB, if it wasn't for that damn kid."

— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) November 25, 2012

For a veteran, one who has spent his entire career with the 49ers and just signed a new three-year deal with the club this past May (h/t USA Today), to lose his job and have no idea what the future holds for him and his family has to be incredibly maddening.

As Smith puts it, it stings:

It stings the most because I really feel like there's something special going on here. You sacrifice and you invest so much time. Like I said, I really feel like I hadn't done anything but get a concussion to facilitate this. I feel like I was playing good football.

You have to give Smith credit. He's toeing the line between brutal honesty and remaining supportive of his teammates in what is unquestionably a very difficult time for him.

Should Kaepernick fail, Smith insists that he'll be ready to pick up where he left off: "All I can do is just prepare and be ready."

For Smith, he'll likely need to prepare and ready himself to be wearing a new uniform in 2013 and beyond, because his days with the 49ers aren't likely to extend into next season.