C3 Journey - The Warriors Log

A Tough Pill to Swallow…

Posted on January 30th, by Jim Crumbley in Teamwork. No Comments

Alex_Smith_running“It sucks, to put it frankly…Tough pill to swallow.” Alex Smith to Peter King

On January 22, 2012 Alex Smith was one game away from the Super Bowl. While most would think that the pending Super Bowl would have been Smith’s “most important game of his life,” in football the game you are in is always the most important.

The 3 point loss would prove to be Alex Smith’s last playoff game as the starting Quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers.

Alex Smith is no Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Tough, resilient, focused, steady, patient, a good game manager with decent arm strength and enough quickness to occasionally get out of trouble; Smith is, when in the right system, a competent to good QB but no future Hall of Famer.

That’s not a cut to Smith. I loved watching the gameiness (made up word?) of his game and enjoy watching others with that trait. There have been many QB’s known as “gamers” to not only start but to win the Super Bowl. One, Eli Manning, has won twice.

And yet, one year and one week to the day after a 3 point loss to Manning’s New York Giants, Alex Smith participates on the sidelines while San Francisco prepares for their next “most important game.”

This is how Peter King of Sports Illustrated summarized Smith’s season. 

NFL’s top-rated passer (104.3) through 10 weeks. Completed 18 of 19  passes in his last full game, at Arizona. Took a week off due to a concussion suffered the next game against St. Louis. Lost his job in that one week off to Kaepernick, who never had started an NFL game. Kaepernick quarterbacked the Niners to the Super Bowl. Smith will watch. Smith will likely quarterback another team in 2013.

I think that Smith is right…it pretty much sucks.  But, speaking an emotional truth hasn’t stopped Smith from doing what is right.  Doing “right” is a learned trait. Alex Smith learned how to deal with this kind of disappointment from watching Brent Elliott. 

 “It’s part of who I am,” Smith said. “It’s football. Guys get hurt all the time. Obviously, I feel like I earned the job, and I was doing better and better. But being able to be out there all the time is part of the deal. I knew very well when I went out that I was giving him [Kaepernick] a shot at the job. And now we’ve seen what Colin is capable of. He’s a very unique talent, and he’s made the most of his opportunity. At the same time, this is exactly how I got my start in college. And I think the biggest thing I can point to in how I’ve handled this is that I saw how some mature quarterbacks handled it. That started in college, with Brett Elliott.”

From the very beginning of Smith’s benching he has been in full support of Kaepernick. On the sidelines…in the meeting rooms…watching film…Smith has become a  player/coach and mentor to a 2nd year player now heading to the biggest show on earth, SuperBowl XLVII in New Orleans. 


Football is a team sport. Team comes before self. If the coach believes that a certain player gives the TEAM the best chance to win, that player plays and the other player sits.

A coaches job is to look at the BIG PICTURE. Jim Harbaugh did and believed that Kaepernick gave the Niners the best chance of making it to the Super Bowl. While there is no way of knowing whether Smith could have led the team to this point, one can’t argue with the results. The San Francisco 49ers, with second year player Colin Kaepernick at the helm, are in New Orleans while Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers watch from home.

God is a God of dreams and vision. We all have them (or should). God is also a God of the big picture…YOURS and the TEAM’S.

If you find yourself sitting on the sidelines, it’s okay to say “It sucks, to put it frankly…Tough pill to swallow.”  Then swallow it and get on with your job.

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand Philippians 2:1-4

There is someone playing who needs your support, encouragement and help. As Christians, every day is our Super Bowl and every moment an opportunity to help change someone’s life.

Who cares who is getting the playing time and who gets the credit. It’s the team (the church and people) that come first.

Because of Alex Smith, I am pulling for San Francisco. While I can’t wait for the action on the field, I’ll spend a lot of time watching the sidelines for a glimpse of number 11; and in the process, learn something about church.


More football related posts…

  1. Getting Beyond the Guilt
  2. Leadership at the field level…
  3. Identity
  4. One hell of a football player
  5. Drive takes the grind out of grind
  6. The 13 Traits of a Team Player

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