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Alex Smith: Colin Kaepernick's NFL Absence 'Still Doesn't Make Sense'

colin kaepernick runs onto the field during an nfl game

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 27: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up during a game against the Miami Dolphins on November 27, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Former No. 1 pick Alex Smith has had a very successful NFL career, reaching three Pro Bowls, and this year, making one of the most incredible injury comebacks in league history. During his tenures with the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, he was ultimately replaced by younger, more talented players as the starter: Patrick Mahomes, and before him, Colin Kaepernick.

Towards the end of the 2012 season, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh made the call to replace Smith with the more dynamic Kaepernick. He threw for 1,814 yards, 10 touchdowns, and three interceptions in 13 games, eight of which he was effectively the top quarterback for the team. He added 415 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

Kaepernick wound up guiding the 49ers to the Super Bowl, where they fell to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31. The following year, the team got to the NFC Championship Game against the Seattle Seahawks, with Kaepernick as the full-time starter. A few years later, he was completely out of the league, after he began protesting during the national anthem in 2016.

"The run that he went on at the end of that last year when we were together and then went to the Super Bowl... was so crazy to watch. Truly one of the historic runs in football," Smiths said during an interview with The Ringer's Kyle Brandt. "It's crazy to fast forward only a couple later that he was out of the league. Couldn't even grasp it. Couldn't understand it. It still doesn't make sense."

Smith said that Kaepernick was very reserved and still finding himself when he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. He only has good things to say about his former teammate, who ultimately displaced him from his first NFL club.

"Great dude. Really quiet," Alex Smith, when asked about his memories of Kaepernick as a teammate. "A really, really good dude. Really respectful. Great worker. Crazy strong.

"I'm a big fan of his, like I said. Crazy talented, but a really good person."

Brandt said that Colin Kaepernick's absence from the game of football is a "shame," given how impressive he was during his short run with the 49ers. Alex Smith called it "tragic."

"It's so tragic, looking at it. I think he was ahead of his time, certainly, trying to call out social injustice around police reform. The country wasn't ready. Nobody was ready for it. And he's sitting there trying to tell everybody through a completely peaceful manner about some of the things going on in this country, and that have been going on for a long time, and to see the backlash that happened, it hurts. It hurts looking back at it. The country wasn't ready for it and he suffered the repercussions, with his job...

"There was one point, I don't know if it was like Ron Jaworski or who, was calling him maybe the greatest quarterback ever from a talent perspective early on in his career. And to think it was all gone two years later because of a peaceful demonstration he was taking. So, tragic, sad, but obviously he was incredibly brave."

Smith says that he doesn't talk to Colin Kaepernick too much anymore, but he's proud to know him, and of what he's done in the years since he last played in the NFL.

[The Ringer]