By Bryan Rose
June 05, 2014

Colin Kaepernick thanks Alex Smith in contract press conferenceColin Kaepernick (right) took hold of the starting job in San Francisco late in the 2012 season and left Alex Smith (left) on the outside looking in. (Robert Beck/SI)

Fresh off signing a six-year extension worth up to $126 million, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was quick to recognize the people who'd helped him grow into one of the league's rising stars, including former teammate and current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.

Smith, who essentially lost his starting job to Kaepernick in San Francisco while he was sidelined with an injury, has remained cordial with the 49ers signal-caller, according to

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"I don't think I would be at this point so quickly if (Alex Smith) hadn't been such a great mentor to me and helped me along with things," Kaepernick said at a Wednesday news conference to announce the deal. "I'm very grateful for my teammates as well. I wouldn't be here without them."

It was a nice gesture from Kaepernick towards Smith, who is now in his own contractual dispute with the Chiefs.

Within the same press conference, the 49ers quarterback also made it clear he's not content with his game, suggesting he still has plenty of warts he needs to polish despite his record-setting payday.

"I think right now, improving on getting through progressions, making the right reads and doing it every play is something that can take me to the next level as a player and take this offense to the next level," Kaepernick said.  "And that's something we're constantly working on and we get to do it against one of the best defenses in the league every day."

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