Smith's career turnaround under center in San Francisco was directly linked to the arrival of coach Jim Harbaugh and his offensive coordinator Greg Roman. It's easy to forget that Smith was a shattered player as recently as 2010, a former top overall pick caught in a nasty game of musical chairs with Troy Smith and seemingly on his way out of town.
Harbaugh and Roman fit Smith into a scheme that made the most of his gifts. This is a smart quarterback with limited physical gifts, and the 49ers -- after working closely with him in practice for more than a season-plus -- decided Smith lacked the tools to take San Francisco to the promised land.
Debate: Alex Smith trade fallout
It's easy to look at the Chiefs and view them as a team dotted with skill players and young risers on defense. They fielded multiple Pro Bowlers this season -- on paper they're attractive -- but on the field they crumbled to 2-14. Quarterback issues contributed heavily, but this is not a playoff-ready team and Smith will be forced to play outside of himself to propel this offense. That's a dynamic the 49ers showed little confidence in.
Reid and the Chiefs, however, are showing considerable confidence in Smith. He deserves a starting gig and a chance at redemption. Smith is a talented player and handled his demotion in San Francisco with class and that makes him an attractive addition to Kansas City's locker room. Nobody's questioning Smith the person -- but Smith, on the field, is about to face the biggest test of his career.