The 49ers announced Tuesday that they had agreed to a restructured contract with QB Alex Smith — a deal that was a long time in the works.
49ers general manager Scot McCloughan pointed out during the NFL Scouting Combine last month that there was mutual interest in bringing the top overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft back to the Bay Area. Smith, who was still under contract with the Niners for 2009, wanted the chance to come back and prove himself as the starter. Coach Mike Singletary all but confirmed that Smith will have that chance.
As for Smith, he held a conference call with members of the media Tuesday to discuss the restructured contract.
“It was definitely important to me,” Smith said. “I really felt like I had unfinished business here. I felt like this was the team that brought me out and gave me my first chance, and I really felt like I have a lot to prove here to myself, to the organization, to my teammates, to the fans, and to really become the player I set out to become when I first came out of college. I’m grateful that they gave me the opportunity to stay here and to be a part of this.”
Here are a couple of other notable quotes from Smith:
Q: A lot of athletes in your position, when they’re asked to restructure their contract downward, they react out of ego and pride and maybe refuse to do it. And you, by all accounts, have done it willingly. There’s no ego involved in this for you in taking a lesser contract?
Smith: “Absolutely not. Absolutely not. No, I guess I don’t measure myself by my contract or what I’m making. I’m out there to play some football, and having gone through what I’ve gone through the last couple of years and being on the sidelines, I guess I’ve had a chance to have a different perspective on this game, and I just feel fortunate to get another chance to get back on the field. I’m tired of watching. I’m tired of being in that training room. I’m ready to get back out there. I’m thankful I’ve got the chance. So, no, when it came time to restructure the contract, it wasn’t anything that had to do with ego or how much money I was going to be making. I just wanted the chance to compete.”
Q: You think that you are in a better place. What makes you think the 49ers are in a better place than they’ve been in the past couple of years?
Smith: “I think it’s pretty easy to see when you’re around here, especially when I think back to my first couple of years and what was going on here and then the changes that have been made. From top to bottom, this organization is headed in the right direction. I definitely get that sense. I get that feeling around here, especially with Coach Singletary and some of the new things he’s added, some of the new people he’s brought in. I really feel like we’re close, and when you look at last season and you look at what happened with Arizona, I think it’s just a great example of the NFL and what can happen and the parity within this league. I think that’s exciting. I really do feel like this is the best team that I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here.”
The 49ers’ official blog has some more highlights from the conference call.