Alex Smith ready to start for Chiefs
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – To many outside observers, it appeared Alex Smith was somewhat OK with his benching last fall in San Francisco.
In fact, teammates lauded Smith for his unselfishness and his team-first attitude after he was replaced by Colin Kaepernick.
Well, the truth is, Smith may have been unselfish and a great teammate at the time, but he was anything but OK with the benching. At least that is what Smith indicated Wednesday as he was introduced as the new Chiefs' starting quarterback at the team's training facility.
"When the season was over," Smith said, "I just let the 49ers know that I didn't consider myself a backup in this league. And I wasn't going to sit on the bench. They let me know they weren't going to release me.
"So that led to what happened (the trade to the Chiefs). I couldn't be happier now."
Smith did acknowledge that he tried to be the best teammate he could during that awkward time of getting benched.
"You really only have a couple of choices," Smith said. "You can be pissed and then pout, or you can just wait patiently until your next opportunity comes up. That's what I did – I waited for the next opportunity."
The circumstances bringing Smith to Kansas City certainly tested Smith's patience as well. News of the trade broke over two weeks ago, but the transaction could not officially be announced until the league's calendar year started, which was on Tuesday.
So, Smith finally flew into Kansas City late Tuesday night, spent Wednesday undergoing a physical exam and signing papers, and then met with the Kansas City media.
In some ways, Smith, 29, now feels like he's getting a fresh start.
"I feel like because of what I've gone through, you grow as a player, grow as a person," Smith said. "But now I'm ready for this. I can't say how excited I am for it. It's a great opportunity with a team that has a lot of talent."
Asked why he thought Kansas City would be a good fit for him, Smith said, "These two guys right here (general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid). The opportunity to work with coach Reid, from all the quarterbacks I've talked to that have played for him, they've only had good things to say.
"You look at this team. You look at the pieces in place. You can see the potential. It's just a matter of getting things going, getting that chemistry and that culture right."
As badly as Smith needed the Chiefs, it is apparent that Dorsey and Reid needed Smith badly as well.
Both Dorsey and Reid said upon their hirings that they would take their time to evaluate the Chiefs' quarterback situation.
That evaluation was over rather quickly, and Dorsey and Reid obviously concluded that the Chiefs needed a complete overhaul at the position.
Last year's starters, Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn, almost surely will be gone. Cassel's contract calls for him to make $7.5 million in 2013. Quinn is an unrestricted free-agent.
Dorsey would not indicate exactly when Cassel would be released.
"Right now, Matt is on our roster," Dorsey said. "As the days go along, we'll see what happens there. But right now he's on our roster."
Reid said Cassel had been at the training facility in recent weeks working out, but has not been around in the past few days.
"We've communicated with him and he understood the situation that was taking place today," Reid said. "It wasn't a secret to him or his representative."
The Chiefs also on Wednesday officially announced the signing of former Mizzou quarterback Chase Daniel, a free-agent from New Orleans. In addition, the Chiefs have Ricky Stanzi and Alex Tanney on the roster, and it is at least questionable now whether the Chiefs will draft a quarterback this year.
"You have to be flexible and keep your options available as you go into that (draft) process," Dorsey said. "We'll let the draft board come down to us and you can never say never."
The presence of Daniel, likely to be a fan favorite at Arrowhead Stadium, isn't about to cause another quarterback controversy for Smith, according to Reid.
"I'm going to speak with a little bit of a forked tongue here," Reid said. "I'm gonna tell you, at every position we try to present competition, because we think that brings out the greatness in the player. I just think that makes you a better football team.
"But I'll tell you, Alex is, he is the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs."
Interestingly, at Reid's introductory press conference in January, he indicated his first duty with the team would be to "find the next Len Dawson."
Has Reid found that guy in Alex Smith?
"Len Dawson's sitting right (over there)," Reid said, smiling. "Len Dawson's in the Hall of Fame. We're going to work on getting Alex into the Hall of Fame."