Alex Smith could have been a divisive guy, tearing apart the San Francisco 49ers locker room with a quarterback controversy in what would have been the franchise's sequel to the Joe Montana-Steve Young cold war.
Instead, Smith has proved to be a key reason why quarterback Colin Kaepernick is 7-2 as a starter in leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years.
Smith was completing 70.2% of his passes with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions, ranking fourth in the NFL with a 104.1 passer rating when he suffered a concussion Nov. 11 that opened the door for more dynamic Kaepernick.
But instead of sulking, Smith devoted himself to being a mentor and coach.
"Another guy with Alex's experience may have not been as willing to help," 49ers fullback Bruce Miller said. "Colin being young, Alex being the veteran, he helped him game-plan and helped in meetings."
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh paid Smith a huge compliment Monday.
"Alex has really helped coach Colin in meetings every single day," Harbaugh said. "He coaches Colin now more than I do.
"That speaks volumes to how good a teammate Alex Smith is."
Maybe Harbaugh, a 15-year former NFL quarterback, had Smith in mind when he said Sunday, "It's the best focus on unity and winning I've ever been a part of."
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SOURCE: USA Today