Alex Smith has taken his demotion like a gentleman.
The 49ers quarterback will watch Super Bowl XLVII from the sideline as second-year pro Colin Kaepernick guides San Francisco against the Baltimore Ravens. A mountaintop experience for the 49ers remains sort of awkward for the guy who lost his job.
"I would be lying if I said it wasn't a little bittersweet," Smith told Bay Area News Group on Wednesday. "Yeah, I want to be out there. It's what you work for coming into the season. That was the mind-set. That was the goal for me."
From a macro level, Smith emphasized he's thrilled to be en route to New Orleans, saying, "If you can't be happy, there's something wrong with you."
Smith deserves credit for his even-keeled approach to Kaepernick's rise. From a football standpoint, the move has been a roaring success. From the human side of things, plenty of people look at Smith and feel for the guy.
"It's the nature of sports," Smith said. "He got an opportunity, stepped up and made the most of it. That's the deal. That's how I got my start in college. It was no different. The guy in front of me got hurt. That's how I got my first start. It's just the nature of team sports."
It's been an odd season for Smith. He finished the year with a passer rating of 104.1, a figure that doesn't often cost quarterbacks their jobs. Smith's work over the past two seasons is sure to earn him a chance to start somewhere else down the line, but his days in San Francisco likely are numbered.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.