"It's another preseason game. Then again, it's not."
There will be some different emotions and potentially awkward pregame exchanges when the quarterback takes on his former team Friday. But Smith mostly has to worry about running his new Andy Reid-led offense in his second preseason start with the Kansas City Chiefs. It's only the preseason, but the defense Smith faced in practice every day actually will get to him now. The 49ers are looking forward to the matchup.
"There's a first time for everything," linebacker NaVorro Bowman said Thursday, via The Associated Press, with a smile. "We never got a chance to hit him. This time we can. We're looking forward to it. I know Alex knows we're coming. It's football, man."
Said cornerback Carlos Rogers: "He'll probably come after me because we were always talking junk during practices while he was here."
Smith's divorce from the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2005 was made easier with the knowledge that he helped finally turn around the 49ers' fortunes.
"If I'd left two years ago before (Jim) Harbaugh got there, I would've held onto a little more, regret or bitterness about what had happened," Smith told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. "But the last two years, I really feel like I made my peace with the fans, the organization in general. The transition has been great, and I'm moving forward."
It's a fun storyline, but it would be a lot more fun if this week's game actually counted.