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Alex Smith says Chiefs were his first choice

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at 8:34 p.m.

— Two weeks after agreeing to trade for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, the Chiefs officially announced the deal Wednesday and introduced him at Arrowhead Stadium.

Appearing in a gray suit and white dress shirt, the bearded and laid-back Smith expressed excitement to be in Kansas City — especially after being shown that he clearly wasn’t going be the 49ers’ starter anymore.

“I feel like because of what I’ve gone through (being benched in San Francisco after suffering a head injury), you grow as a player, grow as a person,” Smith said. “I’m ready for this. I can’t say how excited I am for it.”

Smith was asked to elaborate on the San Francisco situation, in which he suffered a concussion in November against St. Louis, was replaced as the starter by second-year backup Colin Kaepernick and was never allowed to regain his starting job even once he regained his health.

“I made it very clear to the 49ers that I wanted to play,” he said. “I didn’t want to be a backup.”

As for coming to KC, he said being a Chiefs quarterback — the starting quarterback — was his first choice.

“There was no doubt in my mind that this is where I wanted to be,” he said. “There was no doubt in my mind. I’m glad it (the trade) got done.

“You look at what’s here, the pieces that are in place … it’s just a matter of getting things going, getting the culture right.”

The Chiefs will send their second-round pick in this April’s NFL Draft and a conditional pick in 2014 to San Francisco for Smith.

“After many discussions with the 49ers and Alex, we were able to come to an agreement that we felt was mutually beneficial,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. “Alex wanted to be a member of the Chiefs; we are excited to have him, and we think he can help improve this team.”

Other transactions announced or made final Wednesday included the official signings of quarterback Chase Daniel, who is expected to be Smith’s backup, tight end Anthony Fasano, wide receiver Donnie Avery and offensive lineman Bryan Mattison.

But the big news around One Arrowhead Drive continues to be the addition of Smith.

“Alex is going to fit in well here in Kansas City, and we are excited to have him on board,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said in the statement. “We’ve seen him play, and he is very impressive. We are anxious to get him in the building and get him started learning our system.”

Smith, a 6-foot-4, 217-pounder who turns 29 in May, was the first pick in the 2005 draft by the 49ers after two strong seasons as a starter in college at Utah.

Only recently has Smith become a productive player. The 49ers repeatedly changed offensive coordinators and systems during Smith’s early seasons, and he was a disappointment as recently as 2008, when he missed the entire season because of a back injury.

Smith began to turn around his career the following year, but he didn’t really flourish until Jim Harbaugh joined the 49ers as head coach in 2011. Smith had his highest single-season passer rating (90.7) in 2011 and helped the 49ers win the NFC West championship and advance to the NFC Championship Game.

He was the NFL’s top-rated passer last season (104.1) and was completing more than 70 percent of his passes when he received a concussion in a November game against the Rams. When Smith was cleared to play a couple of weeks later, the 49ers kept him on the bench in favor of Colin Kaepernick, who then guided San Francisco to the Super Bowl.

“I’m happy to be joining the Chiefs family,” Smith said in the statement. “I’d like to thank the Hunt family, John Dorsey and Coach Reid for giving me the opportunity to play football for such a proud franchise. I know from experience that Chiefs fans are among the greatest in the NFL, and I’m really looking forward to Sundays at Arrowhead Stadium.”

Daniel, a Texas native, played at Missouri, where he led the Tigers to a 30-11 record in three years as a starter. He spent the past several seasons since being drafted by Washington in 2009 (he was cut before the season started) as the backup to Drew Brees in New Orleans. He has appeared in 45 NFL games but only five as a quarterback — he was primarily a holder on extra points and field goals.

Fasano was originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2006 and was brought to Miami by Bill Parcells in 2008.

Avery spent the early part of his career with the St. Louis Rams, 2011 with the Tennessee Titans and last season in Indianapolis, where he caught passes from Colts rookie Andrew Luck. A second-round pick out of Houston in 2008, he set career highs last season with 60 catches for 781 yards (13.0-yard average) and three touchdowns.

Mattison spent last season with the Chiefs after one year each in Baltimore and then St. Louis. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets in 2008 out of Iowa.

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