Alexander D. "Alex" Smith (born May 7, 1984) is a professional American football quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL). He was the first overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Smith played college football for the Utah Utes. In 2004, he was named the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year and led the Utes to a Fiesta Bowl victory and a national top-five finish. He played for six different offensive coordinators in his first six seasons in the NFL with San Francisco, and he struggled with injuries and consistency. In 2011, Smith enjoyed his strongest statistical season of his career and led the 49ers to the NFC West division title. In the middle of the 2012 season, Smith sustained a concussion and was replaced by Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick started the remainder of the season's games, despite Smith being subsequently medically cleared to play. Smith was traded to Kansas City in 2013.
1 Early life,
2 College career
2.1 College Stats,
3 NFL career
3.1 NFL Draft,
3.2 San Francisco 49ers
3.2.1 2005 season,
3.2.2 2006 season,
3.2.3 2007 season,
3.2.4 2008 season,
3.2.5 2009 season,
3.2.6 2010 season,
3.2.7 2011 season,
3.2.8 2012 season,
3.3 Kansas City Chiefs
3.3.1 2013 season,
3.4 NFL Regular Season Stats,
3.5 49ers franchise records,
4 Personal life,
5 Charity work,
7 External links,
Born in Bremerton, Washington, Smith grew up in La Mesa, California. His father, Douglas D. Smith, was the Executive Director at the high school that Alex attended, Helix Charter High School, until June 30, 2012. As a starter at Helix during his junior and senior years Smith led his team to a record of 25-1, including two San Diego CIF section championships. He was named to the first-team all-conference and all-county squads in the San Diego CIF system. Smith also earned the conference offensive player of the year twice, and twice won the team MVP for Helix. During his time at Helix, Smith set a school record by throwing for six touchdowns in one game, and recorded the second-highest completion percentage in San Diego CIF history. While at Helix, he played with 2005 Heisman Trophy winner (since vacated) Reggie Bush. Smith and Bush were later finalists for the 2004 Heisman, making it the first time a high school had two finalists at the same ceremony.
Smith was president of his senior class in high school, and was also an excellent student who graduated with a 4.4 GPA one semester early by earning college credits through a program with San Diego State University and a dozen Advanced Placement tests.
Smith attended the University of Utah and played for the Utah Utes, wearing number 11. He finished fourth in voting for the 2004 Heisman Trophy and was selected as the 2004 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. Smith posted a 21-1 record as a starter in college, while leading a high-powered spread offense under head coach Urban Meyer. He led the Utes to victories in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and the 2003 Liberty Bowl. Smith earned a bachelor's degree in economics in two years with a 3.74 GPA, having matriculated with 64 credit hours, and began work on a master's degree in the field before being drafted.
At the NFL combine, Smith recorded a 4.7 time in the 40-yard dash, and had a 32-inch vertical leap. He also earned a score of 40 out of 50 on the Wonderlic exam.
The San Francisco 49ers, who held the first overall pick, had hired a head coach with a strong personality in Mike Nolan. Nolan thought Smith to be cerebral, introspective, and non-confrontational. Nolan also evaluated Aaron Rodgers but did not believe that Rodgers' attitude could co-exist with him. Smith was the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, selected by the San Francisco 49ers. In July 2005, Smith agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million contract with the 49ers; the contract included $24 million in guaranteed money.
San Francisco 49ers:
Dealt with an injury and being taken in and out of the lineup by then-head coach Mike Nolan, Smith played in nine games in his rookie season, recording just one touchdown pass, against the Houston Texans, while throwing 11 interceptions.
After the challenges faced by his rookie campaign, Smith went into the 2006 season with a new offensive coordinator (Norv Turner) and an improved set of offensive weapons around him. The 49ers used their top draft choice on Vernon Davis, a tight end from Maryland. They also upgraded their offensive backfield, trading underachieving running back Kevan Barlow to the Jets, making Frank Gore the feature back.
Smith also spent the off-season working daily with his new coordinator, wide receivers and tight end, while working to improve his technique and add bulk. The improved offensive cast clearly helped Smith develop in his second year, especially early. Smith's first three games of the season saw him throw three touchdowns, no interceptions, and amass 814 yards. After struggling in Kansas City, he then threw for three touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders, setting a career high. However, the next five games saw Smith resume his growing pains, averaging only 153 yards per game while throwing only six touchdowns and nine interceptions. Despite his difficulty, he led the 49ers on a three-game winning streak in November.
Smith met Joe Montana for the first time on November 5, 2006, during a game against the Vikings. The 49ers wore the throwback jerseys of the 1989 team which Joe Montana and teammates wore. The 49ers went on to win 9-3, upsetting the Minnesota Vikings.
In need of a statement game, the 49ers traveled to Seattle for a Thursday Night Football game against their division rivals. During the broadcast on NFL Network, Cris Collinsworth noted that if he were starting an NFL franchise, he would have taken the Broncos rookie quarterback Jay Cutler before Alex Smith and fellow rookies Matt Leinart and Vince Young - and that Smith was not even close to the others. Going into the 4th quarter, the 49ers were trailing the Seahawks 7-3, and pulling out a win looked unlikely. Smith however performed brilliantly in the fourth quarter, and drove the 49ers on a long touchdown drive down the field early, taking a narrow 10-7 lead. Late in the quarter, with the same score, Smith struck again - shaking off an almost certain sack, rolling to the left and completing a pass to Frank Gore for a touchdown to give the 49ers a 10 point lead. On the next drive, Smith cemented the victory by leading yet another touchdown drive, and rushing for a touchdown on a naked bootleg. Collinsworth had earlier in the game observed that "Alex Smith is the best I've ever seen him. That drive is the best I saw," and on seeing his touchdown run, commented "What a second-half he has had!"
After losing to the Cardinals the following week, the 49ers final game of the 2006 season was against a Denver Broncos team looking for a playoff berth. In a major upset, the 49ers defeated the Broncos and knocked them out of the playoffs. During the game at INVESCO Field, Smith threw for 194 yards and a touchdown, leading the team to a come from behind victory for the second time in three weeks.
Overall, Smith improved in his second year by throwing as many touchdowns as interceptions. He threw for 16 TDs, 16 interceptions, 2,890 yards and a 74.8 quarterback rating, all improvements over his rookie year. Alex also became the first 49ers quarterback in club history to take every snap from center over the course of a season in 2006.
Smith entered the 2007 season learning under a third offensive coordinator in three seasons. Norv Turner was hired as the head coach by the San Diego Chargers. Jim Hostler replaced Turner. Hostler's system involved a mixture of the offensive system installed by Turner with elements of the West Coast offense installed by Mike McCarthy for the 2005 season. During the offseason, the 49ers added wide receivers Darrell Jackson, Ashley Lelie, and rookie Jason Hill as new offensive targets for Smith.
In the season opener on Monday Night Football against the Arizona Cardinals, Smith led the 49ers to a 20-17 win in a two-minute comeback. While down 17-13 with less than two-minutes left, Smith drove down the field, highlighted by a 25-yard scramble. After the scramble, he threw a 22 yard pass to Arnaz Battle that was fumbled on the one-yard line, but recovered by a 49er so the ball was placed back on the one-yard line with 26 seconds left. The following play Battle ran an end around for the game-winning touchdown. Smith finished the game 15 for 31 with 126 yards and two rushes for 37 yards.
On September 30 in the first quarter of a game against the Seattle Seahawks, Smith injured his right shoulder after getting sacked by Seahawks defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. Smith suffered a grade-three separation and the initial diagnosis was that surgery would not be required. Smith missed the next three games before returning to the 49ers' starting lineup on Sunday, October 28, 2007.
The 49ers did not win a game again until November 25. Among all NFL quarterbacks who qualify for league statistics, only the Jets' Kellen Clemens had a poorer passer rating than Smith (57.2), Smith completed under 50% of his passes, far below the league average of 60%. Smith was at odds with 49ers head coach Mike Nolan over the severity of his injury. Nolan publicly inferred that Smith was not fighting through the injury, while Smith felt that the injury still affected his ability to throw accurately, an account that was supported by players from the Seahawks. Nolan decided to rest Smith following a loss in that game to the Seahawks on November 12 and start Trent Dilfer to allow Smith's shoulder to recover. Following the decision, orthopedic surgeon James Andrews said that upon further examination the shoulder did not heal as significantly as Andrews thought it would, and on December 11, 2007, Smith was placed on injured reserve to undergo surgery on the shoulder, ending his season.
Smith entered training camp competing for the starting quarterback job with Shaun Hill, who won both of the games he started in 2007, before suffering a back injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and journeyman J.T. O'Sullivan. Smith would be learning under a fourth different offensive coordinator in four seasons; Jim Hostler was fired and replaced by former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator and St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator/head coach Mike Martz. Unlike the previous three seasons, where offensive continuity was somewhat maintained, Martz's system was completely different. Smith was announced as the second-string quarterback for the 49ers' initial preseason game against the Oakland Raiders on August 8, behind O'Sullivan, who was elevated to starting quarterback, partly due to his familiarity with Martz's offense when he was a member of the Detroit Lions. Smith threw five of nine for 51 yards. He again started as the second-string quarterback in an August 16 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, which the 49ers won 34-6. O'Sullivan was named the starting quarterback against the Chicago Bears on August 21 in the third preseason game, where he performed extremely well, throwing 7 of 8 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown. Smith threw 6 of 17 for 83 yards and a touchdown.
On September 10, the 49ers placed Smith on injured reserve after Dr. James Andrews confirmed the team's diagnosis of a broken bone in his shoulder, believed to have been caused by a wire left in his shoulder from the previous surgery, which had sawed through the bone. Regardless, the 49ers' general manager, Scot McCloughan, said that the 49ers expected to release Smith before the 2009 season, when they would owe him a salary of $9,625,000.
After Nolan was fired on October 20, 2008, the 49ers expressed interest in having Smith remain for the 2009 season if he was willing to renegotiate his contract. On March 10, 2009, the 49ers announced that his contract had been successfully restructured and that he would stay with the team. He took a considerable paycut to remain with the 49ers, with whom he would be under contract for the next two years. Smith was to make $4 million a season in 2009 and 2010, in addition to base salaries that weren't immediately made known. In his previous contract, he was scheduled to make $24.6 million in the final two years.
After the pay-cut, Smith said that he was ready to compete for the starting quarterback spot, primarily against Shaun Hill.
Mike Singletary became the head coach after a successful term as the interim head coach in 2008, and Martz was fired as offensive coordinator due to the huge differences in offensive philosophies between himself and Singletary. Jimmy Raye II was hired to replace him, marking Smith's fifth different offensive coordinator in five seasons. During the offseason, the 49ers drafted Michael Crabtree to be the featured receiver that Smith had been lacking throughout his NFL career. After restructuring his contract with San Francisco, Smith lost the battle for the starting quarterback position to Shaun Hill. However, in a Week 7 game against the Houston Texans, Smith replaced Hill in the third quarter, after Hill had performed poorly and the Niners faced a 21-0 first half deficit. Smith led the team back with three touchdown passes, all to TE Vernon Davis, but fell short of victory, 24-21. Singletary named Smith as the 49ers' starting quarterback the next day at his weekly press conference on October 26.
After his return as the 49ers' starting quarterback, Smith displayed signs of progress, despite the team's 3-4 record in his first seven starts. He led the 49ers to a Week 12 victory, 20-3, against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, throwing for 232 yards with two touchdown passes while posting a 96.8 passer rating. In a Week 13 match-up against the NFC West division rival Seattle Seahawks, he recorded the first 300-yard passing game of his career, completing 27 of 45 throws with two touchdown passes.
He also worked for the BBC in the United Kingdom, covering Super Bowl XLIV.
Smith entered the 2010 season as the starting quarterback. For the first time in his career, he returned under the same offensive coordinator from the previous season, as Raye was retained. However, continuity in a poor system resulted in the team starting 0-5, and on September 27, Raye was fired and replaced by quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson. Under Johnson, Smith was expected to run a variation of the spread offense that he ran in college. The 49ers continued to build their team having now drafted Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati with their two first round picks to provide more protection. On September 8, Coach Singletary announced that Smith was named one of the team's captains.
In week 5, Smith was booed at home and the crowd chanted for his backup, David Carr, before leading the 49ers to two scoring drives to close within three points. However, he was hit as he threw on the third drive attempt, resulting in an interception and a 24-27 loss, dropping the 49ers to 0-5. Smith once again suffered an injured shoulder in the 49ers week 7 game against the Carolina Panthers and was not available to play week 8 against the Denver Broncos in London. He was replaced by Troy Smith, who had 14 games of experience in the NFL before joining the 49ers organization just before the start of the regular season. Troy Smith took Smith's position after winning 2 straight victories against the St. Louis Rams and the Denver Broncos.
However, following a loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 13 that left the 49ers with a 4-8 record, Troy Smith was demoted to backup in favor of Alex Smith. The top pick of the 2005 draft would start against Seattle in Week 14 in a game the 49ers needed to win to stay in contention in the NFC West.
Smith acknowledged that his performances needed to be more consistent. On December 12, 2010 the 49ers played the Seahawks in San Francisco. Smith was booed by the Candlestick crowd after the first two plays. However, the boos turned to cheers after Smith helped lead the 49ers to a 40-21 victory over a division rival. The win moved the 49ers one game behind the division leaders (Rams and Seahawks) with three games left to play. However, the 49ers struggled the following Thursday night against the San Diego Chargers and Troy Smith started the following game against the Rams. Troy Smith struggled in the loss to the Rams and Alex relieved Troy Smith in that game. After the game, Singletary was fired and Alex finished the season starting against the Cardinals. The 49ers finished the season 6-10 and Smith became a free agent after the season. After his firing, Singletary said, "You gotta have a quarterback." Smith had won just 19 games in 50 career starts through 2010.
In 2010, he was chosen as the 11th-smartest athlete in sports by Sporting News. .
The 49ers hired Jim Harbaugh as the new head coach, and Greg Roman replaced Johnson as the new offensive coordinator. Harbaugh, a former quarterback, was the best teacher the 49ers had since Norv Turner in Smith's second season. Harbaugh made it known to Smith that he was welcomed back on the team. Smith's family wanted him to leave San Francisco. Although he was unsigned, Smith organized the players' workouts during the 2011 NFL lockout and helped to install Harbaugh's new offense. After the lockout ended, Smith signed a one-year $5 million contract with the 49ers. Smith was named the starting quarterback heading into the regular season, and Harbaugh believed Smith could succeed in the coach's West Coast offense.
During the season, Smith's game showed marked improvement, especially in his leadership and intangibles. While he did not put up big numbers like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford and Eli Manning did that year, he helped the 49ers win games through efficient play, minimizing mistakes and controlling the clock. In Philadelphia in week 4, Smith rallied the team from a 23-3 second-half deficit to win 24-23, completing 9 of 9 passes for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns in the third quarter alone. Two weeks later Smith led his third come-from-behind road victory of the year with a six-yard fourth and goal touchdown pass to tight end Delanie Walker, beating the Lions in Detroit 25-19. In a week 10 matchup against the New York Giants, he completed 19 out of 30 passes for 242 yards. The Giants shut down the 49ers' run game (Frank Gore was held to zero yards on six carries before leaving the game in the second half) and Smith was instrumental in the 27-20 victory.
By the time the 2011 season was finished, Smith had helped lead the 49ers to a 13-3 record in the regular season, including five come-from-behind victories in which four were on the road, and the 49ers earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. After 3 head coaches, 7 offensive coordinators, and 17 different starting wide receivers in the span of 7 seasons with the 49ers, Smith would finally make his first playoff appearance.
While the 49ers finished with their most wins since 1997, they did it while ranked 29th of 32 teams in the NFL in total passing yardage for 2011 (including yardage lost from sacks), and Smith was often cynically referred to as a game manager. In this manner, the New York Times wrote that Smith was "a steady, if unspectacular, player surrounded by a solid team" in 2011, whose career year "underscored how much he struggled previously."
Subjective assessments aside, Smith had his best year in 2011, both statistically and in winning games. It was his first season with over 3,000 yards passing, and he set personal single-season highs in virtually every relevant statistical category commonly cited for quarterbacks: in pass attempts with 445, in completions with 273, in completion percentage with 61.3 percent, in passing yards with 3,144, in average per pass with 7.1 yards per attempt, in overall passer rating with 90.7, in rushing attempts with 52, in rushing yards with 179, and in total touchdowns scored with 19 (17 passing & 2 rushing), all while being sacked a league-high 44 times. He also threw a league-low 5 interceptions in 2011,breaking a 49ers franchise record, and setting yet another personal single-season best in fewest passes intercepted per attempt with a 1.123 percent interception rate, likewise the lowest percentage in the league that year.
In the NFC Divisional round of the playoffs, Smith led the 49ers to a win over the New Orleans Saints, with a final score of 36-32. Smith threw for 299 yards, three touchdown passes with no interceptions while rushing for an additional touchdown. Smith led touchdown drives of 80 and 85 yards in the final 4:02. He scored on a 28-yard touchdown run, and he threw a game-winning 14-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with nine seconds remaining, eschewing a more conservative open receiver that would have settled for a field goal and a tie. Analyst Ron Jaworski said "Alex Smith won the game, not Alex Smith by not making mistakes. His performance won the game for them." Smith also became the first quarterback in NFL playoff history to lead two go-ahead touchdowns in the final 3 minutes of a game. The 49ers lost 20-17 in overtime to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game. Smith completed 12 of 26 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, but the team turned the ball over twice on special teams. Smith was chosen by teammates as winner of the Ed Block Courage Award, annually awarded to the player that exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage. Smith made the USA Today All-Joe Team an award which is given to the best players not to make the Pro Bowl.
Smith became a free agent following the 2011 season. The 49ers were reported to be interested in signing Peyton Manning, who had just been released by the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts, leading Smith to visit the Miami Dolphins, reportedly with the intent to sign with the Dolphins if the 49ers signed Manning. Shortly after Manning made the decision to join the Denver Broncos, Smith signed a three-year contract worth $24 million to remain with the 49ers. During the offseason, the 49ers added wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham in free agency, and A.J. Jenkins in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft to improve a passing game that lacked production from the receivers the previous season. Smith began the 2012 season as the 49ers' starting quarterback. the first game of the season, Smith led the 49ers to a 30-22 win over the Green Bay Packers in a highly anticipated opener. In week 2, Smith helped the 49ers win over the Detroit Lions 27-19, in what was referred to by the media as the "Handshake Bowl," referencing the previous 2011 encounter between the two teams. Smith completed 18-of-19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in a 24-3 Monday night win over Arizona. San Francisco was 6-2. In the following game against St. Louis, Smith suffered a concussion in the second quarter, throwing a touchdown with blurred vision before exiting the game. He was replaced by Colin Kaepernick, and the game ended in a 24-24 tie.
Smith missed the following game, and Kaepernick was 16 for 23 for 243 yards with two touchdowns in a 32-7 win over Chicago. Harbaugh was impressed with Kaepernick, and said "we have two quarterbacks that have a hot hand" while dismissing any rule that a player should not lose their starting job due to an injury. A quarterback controversy began. Smith was ranked third in the NFL in passer rating (104.1), led the league in completion percentage (70%), and had been 19-5-1 as a starter under Harbaugh, while Kaepernick was considered more dynamic with his scrambling ability and arm strength. Smith was medically cleared to play the day before the following game, but Harbaugh chose not to rush him back and again started Kaepernick, who threw and ran for a touchdown in a 31-21 win over New Orleans. The following week, Harbaugh announced that Kaepernick would start for the 8-2-1 49ers, while also stating that the assignment was week-to-week and not necessarily permanent. However, Kaepernick remained the starter as the 49ers again qualified for the playoffs. Harbaugh has stated that Smith had been more of a coach to Kaepernick later into the 2012 season than even he was. Before losing the starting quarterback job, Smith was on pace to set career highs in completion percentage, passing yards, yards-per-attempt, passing touchdowns and rushing yards. Smith was named to the USA Today All Joe Team for the second year in a row. He was named the captain of the team as the USA Today football experts felt he should've made the Pro Bowl.
Kansas City Chiefs:
On February 27, 2013, the 49ers agreed to trade Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs for the Chiefs' second round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and a conditional pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The deal became official at the beginning of the new league year on March 12.
After the trade became official, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid stated that Smith will be the starting quarterback for the 2013 season. Smith's job as the starter was solidified during OTA's (Organized Team Activities, a term usually referring to NFL pre-season activities). According to coaches and teammates, Smith displayed a very high "football IQ," and his accuracy in passing was lauded as the best many had ever seen. According to Kansas City's quarterbacks coach, Smith is "super intelligent" and has all of the intangibles that he looks for in a quarterback. The Chiefs were the last unbeaten team in the 2013 NFL season with Smith winning his first nine regular-season starts, gaining 1,919 passing yards with 9 TDs compared to 4 INTs.
NFL Regular Season Stats:
San Francisco 49ers
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Kansas City Chiefs
2 teams/9 seasons
49ers franchise records:
Most game winning drives in a single season: 6 (2011),
Most 4th quarter comeback wins in a single season: 6 (2011),
Fewest interceptions in a single season: 5 in 2011 (16 starts) ,
Most consecutive pass attempts without an interception: 249 (previous record: 184, by Steve Young),
Smith has a brother, Josh, and two sisters, Abbey and MacKenzie. One of Smith's great-grandfathers was an Austrian immigrant of Serbian descent who immigrated to the U.S. from the Austro-Hungarian Empire when he was 12 years old. To honor him, Smith, his brother, and his father are each tattooed with four firesteels, the traditional Serbian cross. His sisters have said they will do the same. Smith's uncle, John L. Smith, is a college football head coach, and his cousin, Chris Shelton, is a Major League Baseball player.
Smith married former Oakland Raiders cheerleader, Elizabeth Barry, in 2009. In May 2011, the couple had their first child, a son named Hudson. In 2013, they welcomed their second child, Hayes.
In 2007, Smith started the Alex Smith Foundation and the Alex Smith Guardian Scholars Program, which helps send foster teens to college. He started the program with $500,000, and continues to personally fund the majority of the charity with his own money. The Boston Globe held up Smith's foundation as a model charity that properly allocated its funding, noting that it "raised $839,244 between 2008 and 2010 and spent 91 percent of the funds on scholarships and grants".
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license