Alex Smith

Smith details pressures of being No. 1 pick with 49ers

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Former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith entered the NFL with the weight of the world on his shoulders, an experience he opened up about while addressing the crowd during Thursday's Dwight Clark Legacy Series event at the California Theatre in San Jose.

San Francisco selected Smith No. 1 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, with the 49ers counting on the Utah product to resurrect a once-proud franchise in the midst of a rapid decline. Smith detailed how much pressure came with not only being a No. 1 overall pick but also following in the footsteps of a pair of Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

"It was unique … there had never been a franchise to have a Joe [Montana] and Steve [Young], like that had never happened," Smith explained. "Jeff [Garcia] set the franchise record for yards, so he had carried it on. And all of a sudden to be the No. 1 pick, and as a 20 year old those were things I never dealt with. I had one college scholarship offer. I had been flying under the radar my entire life, and now all of a sudden [there were] huge expectations put upon me."

Smith revealed how much pressure he put on himself in an attempt to live up to the legendary quarterbacks who preceded him in San Francisco.

"I felt like I had to be Joe Montana, Steve Young and Peyton Manning as the No. 1 pick for the San Francisco 49ers," Smith detailed. "It was a lot. I felt like I had to be perfect. I struggled with that my first few years, walking onto a field on eggshells. Trying not to make any mistakes. I got to be perfect, it was every day at practice, in the meeting rooms, kind of became my own worst enemy.

"As anybody can imagine, you try to do anything let alone play quarterback as a rookie, that's certainly a recipe for disaster. At the time it wasn't something that got talked about a lot. I didn't get to play with a veteran quarterback early on so there wasn't necessarily that resource there. I struggled with it for several years before I kind of found my way out of it thankful to some teammates and coaches"

While the early years of Smith's tenure in San Francisco came with plenty of obstacles, the veteran quarterback eventually turned a corner and helped lead the 49ers to an unforgettable playoff win over the New Orleans Saints in the 2011 NFL postseason.

Smith ended up putting together a very impressive career when all was said and done, logging 167 starts across 14 NFL seasons. The veteran quarterback posted the best stretch of his career after the 49ers traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013, earning three Pro Bowl nods during his tenure there.

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