So it wasn’t entirely surprising that – only for the second time since trading in 2013 – he was facing his former team. his personal experience was frustrating.
Smith left the game at the end of the first half on Sunday and never returned after an injury to his surgically repaired right leg.
Definitely disappointing. But the whole day was exciting for Smith and his young team. Washington beat the 49ers 23:15, their fourth straight win and one that alone puts the team in first place in the NFC East. In contrast, the defeat effectively ended the 49ers’ hopes of returning to the playoffs.
Neither offense brought much drama. But for those who have been watching Smith’s saga – and his loved ones, certainly – there has been a lot of tension over the status of Washington’s starting quarterback.
During the second quarter, the coaches were working on the sideline on Smith’s right leg, which was covered in heavy wrapping. He went to the locker room with a trainer before the second quarter ended. When the second half started, former starter Dwayne Haskins was at the quarterback.
« Alex developed tension and sore muscles when he pulled off his right leg, » said head coach Ron Rivera. “They took x-rays that were fine. There were no problems. But it was in pain and tight so we decided not to let it in again. It was out of caution. ”
Rivera said that if something had happened to Haskins, Smith could have come back into the game. Smith paced up and down, probably to keep the calf muscle loose. When the team was on the offensive, he would listen in his helmet so he could hear the calls. When it came to defense, he went to play with Haskins.
When Smith was in the game, he wasn’t having a good day. He was 8-for-19 for 57 yards and threw an interception. The problem that was kicked off his leg may have explained some of his troubles. He managed to do enough and lead the team to two field goals to keep the game close. And then Washington’s dynamic young defense took over, with a fiddly return for a TD and pick-six.
The fact that Smith quartered a team in the first place is a miracle.
In November 2018, Smith suffered a compound fracture in his right leg. In the hospital he fell ill with an infection, went into septic shock and could have died. As soon as he was stabilized, the doctors told him that he had to decide quickly whether to save his leg or to amputate it.
He decided to save the leg and embarked on a painful, grueling rehabilitation journey. A titanium rod was inserted and an external fixator was drilled into the leg, holding the limb in place for nine months. Smith had a total of 18 surgeries: debridement procedures that cut damaged muscles and tissues from his leg and scarred and mutilated them.
He wanted to learn to walk again first. Then run. Then to see what kind of soccer ball he could get into. Step by step, Smith stepped forward. People amused him when he talked about returning to the NFL – it was a ridiculous dream.
But he continued to progress and in July he was cleared medically. He went to training camp and made the team the third quarterback behind Haskins and backup Kyle Allen. Haskins lost the starting job after four games because he was not only played erratically, but also poorly prepared. He was dropped to third quarterback, and Smith was moved to No.. 1 increased. 2, behind everyone.
Just go to the field in uniform. 11 was a big deal. Allen was then injured in that game, and Smith was put into action and nearly brought Washington to a victory. Three games later, Allen suffered an end-of-season injury and Smith became the starter, with Haskins replacing.
Washington has now taken the lead in the division from the Giants (who swept Washington). Perhaps more importantly, as is his way of life, Smith was a positive influence and mentor to Haskins.
Haskins, selected by the previous Washington regime in the first round of the 2019 draft, was choked up talking about the challenges he has been through this season.
« I’ve tried to be the best version of myself, stay at the facility longer, and prove to the coaches that I’m the type who can be reliable for this team, » said Haskins.
In that regard, sharing a team with Smith was a godsend. Smith taught Colin Kaepernick – and even taught the rookie quarterback the offense at Camp Alex, San Jose during the 2011 lockout – before losing his starting job to Kaepernick in the most frustrating way after a concussion.
In Kansas City, Smith taught Patrick Mahomes before losing his job to the glamorous young quarterback. At the Super Bowl in February, Mahomes was quickly responsible for helping Smith accelerate his growth and help him learn how to be a professional.
« I’m by no means a finished product, and having someone like Alex in the room with me is a great example, » said Haskins. “He comes to work every day with his hat on. He never grinds or complains and is someone I really look up to. He’s a great person to rely on. ”
Smith’s family could breathe a sigh of relief after learning that the injury was not classified as serious on Sunday. Last Monday night when his team pissed off the undefeated Steelers, Smith was studded and blood ran down his leg. His wife Elizabeth started freaking out until their 9-year-old son pointed out that the blood was coming from the father’s left leg, not the vulnerable right one.
But even if the injury on Sunday is temporary, Smith knows better than anyone that his job as a starter can be ripped off at any time. This is what former head coach of the 49ers, Jim Harbaugh, did to him. He knew that when the Chiefs designed Mahomes.
Smith led 5 ½ teams to the playoffs over seven seasons (yes, he’ll get half from 2012, the season the 49ers went to the Super Bowl). . Now he could lead a third franchise into the playoffs.
Who knows what will happen next? Smith certainly didn’t. But he also knows that he will never take a moment of this career for granted.
Ann Killion was born in San Francisco and grew up in Marin County. She has been involved in sports in the Bay Area for more than a quarter of a century. Ann joined The Chronicle in 2012 as an award-winning columnist and veteran of 11 Olympic Games, multiple World Championships and the Tour de France. Ann has worked for the San Jose Mercury News, Los Angeles Times, and Sports Illustrated. She is a New York Times bestselling author and has co-authored Solo: A Memoir of Hope with soccer star Hope Solo, Throw Like A Girl with softball player Jennie Finch, and two medium-sized books on soccer. Champions of Women’s Soccer « and » Champions of Men’s Soccer « . She was named California Sports Journalist of the Year in 2014, 2017 and 2018. She has two children and lives in Mill Valley.
Washington Football Team, Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers, American Football, Dwayne Haskins, Ron Rivera
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