Alex Smith’s career was almost like a theatrical play; it had several acts.
He saved the best for last and capped it off with a video announcing his retirement today on Instagram.
One of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.
Thanks for being an inspiration, Alex Smith. (via @lizbsmith11/IG) pic.twitter.com/HOqggvmJf7
— NFL (@NFL) April 19, 2021
Let’s take a look at Smith’s career.
Act 1 – San Francisco 49ers
Like every first overall draft pick, Alex Smith entered the NFL with plenty of attention and scrutiny.
He was on the field in his rookie season, playing in 9 games and starting in 7 of them.
The first three seasons were a struggle where Smith threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
A lingering shoulder injury in the 2007 season cost him the entire 2008 season.
It was believed that the wire inserted in a 2007 offseason shoulder surgery sawed through the bone early in the 2008 season.
He played some of his best football in the 2009 through 2011 seasons, improving the accuracy and eliminating a lot of the interceptions that haunted him in his early years.
Smith was at his best in the 49ers playoff game against the Saints in 2011.
Thank you Alex Smith for all you've given to the game. A lion's heart.
Lots of ups and downs with the #49ers as the #1 overall pick.
But you gave us one of the biggest thrills in NFL history.
Enjoy retirement! You deserve it!
— #Random49ers (@Random49ers) April 19, 2021
A concussion midway through the 2012 season sidelined Smith and elevated backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick to a starting role.
Despite leading the 49ers to a 6-2 start and putting up great numbers, Smith ultimately lost his job to Kaepernick.
True to Smith’s character, he took all of it in stride and often tried to coach the young Kaepernick.
Act 2 – Kansas City Chiefs
In 2013, the 49ers traded Smith to the Chiefs.
He continued to put up great numbers as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback for four seasons.
A late season rest in 2017 gave the backup quarterback and recent Chiefs’ draft pick Patrick Mahomes an opportunity.
As happened in San Francisco, Smith was performing well but still lost his starting job to a younger quarterback.
Most would get visibly frustrated and lash out with this same misfortune happening again, but Alex Smith did not.
#Chiefs HC Andy Reid was just told on a conference call that Alex Smith officially retired: "He's a heck of a person. I told him if he gets into coaching, I'll get first dibs on him. He's a guy you'd love to have on your staff. A special person and one of my all time favorites." pic.twitter.com/On3WadL8uF
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) April 19, 2021
Act 3 – Washington Redskins
Smith was once again traded and came to Washington in 2018.
On November 18, 2018, Alex Smith was sacked in a home game against the Houston Texans.
Redskins legend Joe Theismann was in attendance as it was the 33rd anniversary of his devastating leg injury.
Smith’s injury during that sack mirrored Theismann’s in many ways.
Act 4 – Recovery
I am drawn to lessons in resilience, fortitude, uncommon commitment and sacrifice. Never can get enough of them. Learn from all of them. Inspired by every one of them. That is Alex Smith to me and for me.
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) April 19, 2021
Smith had a spiral and compound fracture to his tibia and fibula.
He had many complications including sepsis which nearly cost him his life.
There was also a time when it wasn’t clear if doctors could salvage his leg, and it potentially would be amputated.
He endured 17 surgeries and rigorous rehabilitation that would make a lesser man angry, withdrawn, and contemplating retirement.
Act 5 – Comeback
An inspiration to all 🙌
Never forget when Alex Smith took the field for the first time after his injury.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 19, 2021
On October 11, 2020, Washington Football Team quarterback Kyle Allen suffered an injury, and Alex Smith came into the game.
After nearly 2 years, Smith got into the huddle.
He went on to start 6 games leading his team to a 5-1 record.
There was no doubt that he would win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2020, an honor he heartily deserved.
Alex Smith’s career was legendary in a different respect.
He showed the utmost character in situations where he lost his job while playing well, and he typified determination in his never-ending effort to recover from his devastating injury and take the field again.
Smith made the NFL better for being a part of it.