Alex Smith has officially retired from the NFL.
The 16-year veteran took to Instagram to announce his retirement in a must-watch video.
Smith's career is the epitome of a roller coaster ride. No quarterback in recent memory has had the up-and-down season like he did. From astonishingly coming back from a gruesome leg injury, to playing like a top-12 quarterback under Jim Harbaugh.
Early in his career, Smith was a very polarizing player. The comparison to Aaron Rodgers further added salt to an already gaping wound. The 49ers were an embarrassment the first six years of his career. And even though he did not look relatively good through those years, which isn't even half his fault, Smith ended up leaving a heartfelt imprint and everlasting memories for 49ers fans.
So how should Smith's 49ers career be remembered?
He should be remembered as someone who endured, which is essentially his whole career. The guy can be the posterchild for the phrase "comeback kid" given how much adversity he has fought back from. All you can do is salute him from never wavering despite a horrid start to his NFL career.
When Smith ran it in for a touchdown against the Saints in the NFC Divisional game, you can see him screaming as he is about to score. And in that scream, you get the sense of relief. Of course there is enjoyment from winning the game, but relief and happiness that he has finally reached his pinnacle after everything he went through.
That scream was not only from his soul, but the energy from the fans at Candlestick Park. That stadium had not known what joy or success was for practically 10 years, which had essentially been Smith's entire career at that point. To see Smith be the guy that sealed it against the Saints knowing all the challenges set in front of him -- it definitely was ecstasy. Anytime the fans can suffer with the same player(s), it makes the ascension that much sweeter, which is why there was a bit of a split when Kaepernick replaced him.
And I think that too is exemplary of him. Rather than kick and scream, Smith just sat back and handled it professionally. You cannot say that about most quarterbacks, or any starter in the league for that matter. The fact that Smith endured being replaced twice is proof of the high-character guy that he is.
When remembering Smith with the 49ers, his Saints performance trumps all of the bad. Because for one moment, one game, he gifted the fanbase invigoration.
Happy retirement Alex Smith.