It’s easy to forget that before he was considered arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, Patrick Mahomes rode the bench behind former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.
Smith was the Chiefs starter when Kansas City drafted Mahomes in 2017, with the rookie sitting every game except for the season finale that year. Mahomes was impressive enough in that game for the Chiefs to trade Smith that offseason to the Washington Redskins.
Smith’s career took a dark turn just 10 games into his Redskins career, with the quarterback sustaining a gruesome knee and leg injury that may prove to be career ending.
Mahomes spoke glowingly about Smith during media day on Monday, and attributed much of Mahomes’ early career success to the former 49ers signal caller.
“Yeah, I learned a ton from Alex Smith,” Mahomes said. “I attribute a lot of my success, especially so early in my career, to him. I mean the way he was able to go about being a professional. Going out there and having the great year that he had my first year, and just seeing how he went about every single day, and how to game plan and how to recognize coverages.”
“He didn’t hold anything back from me. He taught me, and that’s just the type of person he was, and that he is, and I attribute a lot of my success to him.”
Smith’s career in San Francisco was brutal for the first five seasons after he was selected first overall. The arrival of Jim Harbaugh proved to be a turning point, with Smith leading the 2011 49ers to a 13-3 record and a berth in the NFC Championship Game.
Smith would lose his job to upstart Colin Kaepernick the next season, after sustaining a concussion eight games into the season.