Alex Smith's future, once as uncertain as they come, ended up including a return to the football field in 2020.
It wasn't merely a ceremonial return, though, which made it that much sweeter for Smith -- a man who needed support for daily function after nearly losing his leg -- and drove him to work even harder once he was out there.
"I had no idea how my leg and body would respond to the combination of being out for two years and the injury and the limb salvage and all that stuff; I've got to wear a brace to do anything," Smith explained during an appearance on 10 Questions with Kyle Brandt. "I had no idea how I would respond to that. It's one thing to go out there one day and roll, but could I do it over the course of the season?
"And that I think was the most encouraging thing for me. I pounded on my leg every single day harder than I ever thought I would and I felt like I got stronger and stronger and stronger and the more I pushed it, the more my body responded and my leg for that matter. I felt like if anything it only fueled me even more that I can roll and keep going."
Smith did in fact roll, appearing in eight games (six starts), completing 66.7 percent of his passes and posting a 5-1 mark to help Washington reach the postseason. As he said, he also pounded on his leg, and eventually it knocked him out of action again.
The good news is his latest injury wasn't a setback, and it sounds as if he's invigorated by his 2020 experience (even if you won't hear most saying the same of their own).
"Obviously it was unfortunate at the end to get the bone contusion and struggling with that the last couple weeks, but for me, it was completely unrelated to obviously my prior injury," Smith said. "So I'm excited, I'm excited to see what I can do this offseason. I feel like I've got a list of things, football-wise and just life that I want to go do that I've been wondering about ever since I broke my leg and wondering if I'd ever do again. I want to go chase those down this offseason.
"Obviously, I'll take some time here and sit down with my wife -- she deserves obviously quite a bit of input in this -- and then go from there. So no rush to make that decision here tomorrow, but just kind of want to get into this offseason. I still feel like I've got a lot of room for growth on the field, based off what happened this last year."
Sections of that response might have swayed you, the reader, into believing Smith was about to say he was walking away to pursue that list of things he said he'd like to chase down in the offseason. Retirement creates an eternal offseason, essentially.
But Smith's closing on that specific topic is most important for the football fan who wants to see him back on the field in 2021. The NFL's Comeback Player of the Year achieved one goal by just returning, then another by playing well enough to keep his job. Why stop there?
He'll need to figure out where he might end up playing -- Washington coach Ron Rivera has been noncommittal on the matter since the end of the season -- but it sounds as if Smith is ready to keep going as long as a team will have him.