Former 49ers QB Alex Smith has 'such empathy' for Trey Lance, believes in Brock Purdy: He's 'not a fluke'
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Former 49ers QB Alex Smith has 'such empathy' for Trey Lance, believes in Brock Purdy: He's 'not a fluke'

Jun 18, 2023

Alex Smith knows a thing or two about being a first-round 49ers quarterback whose career doesn't begin as planned. Nearly two decades after going No. 1 to San Francisco, the retired three-time Pro Bowler told CBS Sports this week that he has "such empathy" for Trey Lance, the former No. 3 overall pick who was dealt to the Cowboys just two seasons into his career.

"I guess I was not totally surprised," Smith said of Lance's recent trade to Dallas. "I just felt like, I have such empathy for Trey. I carried a lot of weight as a young professional, for a lot of years. But I went to a team that had the No. 1 pick for a reason. They weren't very good. So I had a lot of years to grow through that. Trey just didn't have that luxury."

Smith, who's now partnered with OOFOS, active recovery footwear that he first discovered while playing for the Chiefs (and helped fuel his return from a leg fracture during his 2020 Comeback Player of the Year season), has personally known 49ers brass and ownership for almost half his life. So it may seem obvious San Francisco has a "win-now mentality," considering Kyle Shanahan's squad has now been to three of the last four NFC championships. But the former QB is sure, having been there, done that, that Lance's abrupt departure after an injury-riddled start has everything to do with capitalizing on a Super Bowl window.

Spoke w/ former #49ers QB Alex Smith about San Francisco's changes under center. He has "such empathy" for Trey Lance, who will "get another chance." But he's also big on Brock Purdy: "He's just built (for this). It's not a fluke." Praised the latter's processing and composure.

That, of course, also means doubling down on the franchise QB they stumbled into: Brock Purdy.

Lance is "gonna get another chance," Smith added, whether it's growing into the No. 2 role behind Dak Prescott in Dallas, or elsewhere; he's simply "too talented of a young kid" to be done. But Purdy, 23, whose improbable Mr. Irrelevant campaign helped propel San Francisco to last year's NFC title game, has Smith's wholehearted endorsement as the future of the franchise.

"Brock, man, I couldn't tell you how impressed I've been with his demeanor," Smith said. "I was out at some practices this summer. He looks phenomenal. He's just built (for this). It's not a fluke. You know, at the combine, we love the measurables. We love to measure height, weight, 40 times. But in the end, if you can't process information and you're not accurate, you're not gonna make it in the NFL. Brock has both those things."