Smith introduced as new quarterback of Chiefs
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
KANSAS CITY (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs wanted to upgrade at quarterback.
Alex Smith wanted to play for the Chiefs.
Both of them got their wish.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was introduced at a news conference at the Chiefs’ training facility Wednesday, capping a whirlwind day of physicals and meetings and finishing off a process that began when the two sides agreed to a trade two weeks ago.
“There was no doubt in my mind this is where I wanted to be. It wasn’t close,” Smith said. “Everything pointed here for me, and I’m excited about it.”
The 49ers will receive the Chiefs’ second-round pick, 34th overall, and a conditional pick in next year’s draft under terms of the deal, which could not become official until the start of the new league year Tuesday.
Under terms of the three-year contract he signed last March, Smith is guaranteed $8.5 million for the 2013 season, though Chiefs’ general manager John Dorsey acknowledged he is open to the possibility of signing Smith to a new deal.
“Since the beginning of this process, we’ve always had our eye on Alex,” Dorsey said, “and now we’re finally happy to obtain him. When we had a chance to do all our research, we felt as a franchise moving forward here, we felt that Alex was the best fit for us.”
Dorsey said he and new Chiefs coach Andy Reid evaluated about 20 quarterbacks as they tried to upgrade the position, and they ultimately decided Smith was a better option for the franchise going forward than a free agent or anybody available in the draft.
“He’s a guy if I had a chance, I’d want him on my team,” Reid said. “I did inquire about him periodically with the 49ers. This was an opportunity again where we did have a chance to bring him to Kansas City, and we’re very excited about that.”
Reid also made it clear Smith wouldn’t be backing up anybody in Kansas City.
“I’m going to tell you, every position we try to create competition,” Reid said, “but I’ll also tell you, Alex is the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.”
The Chiefs still have Matt Cassel under contract, though, and while Dorsey refused to say whether the team is trying to trade him, it’s unlikely he’ll remain on the roster much longer.
If a trade can’t be worked out, the Chiefs will likely release him.
“Right now, currently, Matt is on our roster,” Dorsey said, “and as the days go on, we’ll see what happens.”
The Chiefs have been active in free agency, adding wide receiver Donnie Avery, tight end Anthony Fasano, defensive tackle Mike DeVito, cornerback Dunta Robinson and backup quarterback Chase Daniel, but none of the moves has been watched as closely as the trade for Smith.
Smith had eight up-and-down years with the 49ers, but thrived under coach Jim Harbaugh. He went 13-3 as the starter two years ago, and was 6-2 midway through this past year, completing 18-of-19 passes with three TDs in a Monday night win Oct. 29 against Arizona.
He then sustained a concussion in the second quarter of a tie at 24 Nov. 11 against St. Louis, saying later he threw a touchdown pass with blurry vision. Smith sat out the next game, Colin Kaepernick dazzled in his debut as an NFL starter — and Smith never started again.
Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl and Smith became expendable.
“I just felt like I was getting better and better, and you know, winning games,” Smith said. “I felt like I didn’t do anything to lose my job other than get a concussion.
“It was tough,” he said, “but you know, you get through it. You move on. It wasn’t my decision. I can sit there and dwell on it, you know, and pout, or I can move on and get ready for my next opportunity. Those were my two choices, and for me, it was an easy decision.”
Smith said he had a couple of meetings with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke during the offseason, and he made it clear he did not want to stick around as a backup.
“I wasn’t going to get released,” Smith said, “and options were kind of laid out and for me, and without a doubt, the Chiefs were the team I wanted to be with, even before they were an option. I thought there was an opportunity there and there was.”
Smith said he continually conveyed his desire to Baalke, but he acknowledged the decision was out of his hands. When Baalke called him two weeks ago to let him know a trade had been reached, Smith started to think about turning around the franchise.
“You know what’s here,” he said. “You know the nucleus, what it can be. The players, it starts there. It starts in the locker room, and the coaching staff, those two things. The direction they’ve headed, the guys they brought in, all of that is exciting.”
Smith has even played a part in luring other free agents.
Avery and Fasano both said playing in an offense with Smith was one of the reasons they were interested in signing with the Chiefs, and they’ll all be tasked with overhauling an offense last in the NFL in yards passing and touchdown throws last season.
“It definitely mattered,” Avery said. “I know Alex is a good quarterback. I played against him when I was in St. Louis, so I know what he can do.”
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