NEW ORLEANS -- On the flipside of Colin Kaepernick's stunning rise for the San Francisco 49ers sits the tale of Alex Smith, the demoted passer who -- in the court of public opinion -- would have reason to be agitated watching Sunday's Super Bowl from the sideline.
People close to Smith have seen the opposite. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was asked Monday if Smith's role during the week has changed since he lost his job.
"Really, it's been the same," Harbaugh said. "He's prepared and been involved in the game-planning and the preparation, and he's prepared himself as the starter each week. That's what he's done, that's what we expected of him, and that's what he's delivered."
Added Harbaugh: "(Smith is) another person really to credit in Colin's success because Alex has really helped coach Colin. He's been right there at his side, sitting in meetings every single day, and he coaches Colin now more than I do. And that speaks volumes for the kind of person and teammate that Alex Smith is."
Smith has spoken honestly about his desire to play, but he's never flinched in his support of Kaepernick and the 49ers. That's what we've seen publicly, but spending time with the guy who replaced you -- burning hours to make that person better -- confirms something about Smith that nobody can take away.