Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was around for the first two years of the team’s three-year long run as one of the top squads in the NFL. After being benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick during San Francisco’s conference championship-winning 2012 season, Smith was then traded to the Kansas City Chiefs the following offseason.
In rare public comments about his former team, the veteran quarterback opened up about what has transpired in San Francisco since the 49ers came within yards of hoisting the Lombardi.
“I knew, for sure, some of those defensive players we wouldn’t be able to keep around, just contract-wise and years-wise, like Dashon (Goldson) and Justin (Smith),” Smith said, via the San Jose Mercury News. ”You knew some of that wasn’t going to last forever. We weren’t going to be able to hold it altogether from a cap standpoint and the years standpoint. You knew that was going to change.”
Back in March of 2013, Smith joined Randy Moss, Dashon Goldson and Delanie Walker as key departures for the then defending NFC champions. And while San Francisco’s core remained intact following the 2013 season, there have been wholesale changes over the past few months.
Anthony Davis, Justin Smith, Patrick Willis and Chris Borland all surprisingly announced their retirements earlier this offseason. Meanwhile, the team lost Mike Iupati, Michael Crabtree, Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox in free agency. Heck, San Francisco even traded all-time great punter Andy Lee.
All said, the 49ers are returning only seven starters from their Super Bowl team back in 2012.
Of course, this doesn’t even take into account the departure of head coach Jim Harbaugh, who was 44-19-1 in four seasons with the team.
Though, Smith did offer up an explanation of the large-scale turnover in San Francisco in comparison to what we have seen from other teams around the league:
“There’s a ton of turnover everywhere,” Smith said. “I’d be interested to see what the league average is. I’m sure it’s a lot. It’s more than people realize, I think.”
While everyone is focused on San Francisco’s mass overhaul, it’s important to note that the Baltimore Ravens, who bested the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, only return seven starters from that championship team.
Whether San Francisco can compete in 2015, now that’s a different story. There is still a nice amount of talent on the roster, but the NFC West is loaded once again this year.
As for Smith, he can now concentrate on actually throwing a touchdown pass to one of his wide receivers in 2015.
Photo: USA Today Sports