Tim Rattay. Shaun Hill. Troy Smith. Alex Smith has had competition for the starting quarterback job throughout his career and always has managed them well from a camaraderie and team chemistry standpoint. He and Hill were groomsmen in each others' wedding, in fact.
Smith didn't think the current situation between him and Colin Kaepernick should be any different.
"In my opinion, if you can't be happy for your teammate's success, you're playing the wrong sport," Smith said today, his first media appearance in a week. "Go play tennis or golf or something. It's ridiculous, I think. That doesn't belong in team sports, in my opinion."
Two days after Kaepernick's impressive game against the Bears, there has been no change in the quarterback dynamic. Smith still has not been cleared to play in a game, although both he and Jim Harbaugh today said they were optimistic that would happen this week. Smith will practice today in a black, no-contact jersey.
"I feel good. I feel really good," Smith said. "So I'm kind of expecting things to go well."
Smith, of course, said the same thing last week. The 49ers began the week giving him most of the practice snaps. But Smith's symptoms returned at the end of the week and the snaps started going to Kaepernick instead. On Sunday night the decision was made to give Kaepernick the start against Chicago.
"I tried to push it and went out and practice and I just wasn't right and the doctors didn't end up clearing me," Smith said. "I'm not going to get into the symptoms that were going on. Tried to push it earlier in the week and there were still some lingering things."
"Ultimately the decision came down to me and my health and was I ok," he continued. "And I didn't feel like it was something to tough through and can't really tough out something like that. Hopefully, the doctor is going to clear me."
Smith is in the midst of the best season of his career. He's had two games with 156-plus passer ratings and has guided the 49ers to six of their seven wins. Earlier this year, he engineered a playoff win against the very team the 49ers will face on Sunday, the Saints.
Does he think that the job should be his if he is healthy?
"I guess you don't expect anything," said Smith. "This is the nature of the game. The next guy steps up and plays well. That's part of the deal in this game. Competition is part of it as well. Don't know what's going to happen."
Was he at least surprised Harbaugh left the door open for Kaepernick to be the starter?
"No. Once again, that's his call," Smith said. "Colin played great. Stepped up and played really well on a big stage vs. a good defense. Like I said, it comes with the territory."
- Matt Barrows