NEW ORLEANS Alex Smith said Tuesday he's not sure what the future will bring or where he'll be next season. But he's convinced he's never been a better quarterback than he is now.
The statistics certainly support that assertion.
He had a 104.1 quarterback rating it would have ranked third in the NFL this year had he qualified for the final rankings when he suffered a concussion Nov. 11 against the St. Louis Rams. In his last full game, he completed 18 of 19 pass attempts.
It seems if there any silver linings in his bizarre, tough-luck season, it's that he can advertise himself to future employers as having been one of the top quarterbacks in the league when he got hurt.
"Yeah, I still feel like I have my best football ahead of me," said Smith, who has started 77 games but is only 28. "And in that sense, I feel like I've gotten better and better. I'm excited for my next opportunity wherever that comes. For me, it's being ready to go if that (opportunity) comes on Sunday here."
Tuesday was Super Bowl media day, when every coach and player arrived at the Superdome to be interviewed by more than 2,000 media members. Fourteen of the most prominent 49ers, including starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick and coach Jim Harbaugh, were stationed at individual risers.
The rest, like Smith, stood on the field to be mobbed with questions.
Smith acknowledged it was tough to accept his circumstances but stopped well short of complaining. He said he had nothing to do with a recent national report that said he wanted to be released "No idea where that came from," he said and that he felt it was necessary to set a dignified example for teammates, fans and his 11/2-year-old son. Smith and his wife are expecting another boy in March.
He said his focus was on Sunday's game, but he also made it clear he wants to be an NFL starter again.
"I want to win on Sunday. I want a ring," Smith said. "After Sunday, there will be enormous amounts of time to talk and think about that stuff. For me, it's just being focused and getting ready."
Moss in 2013? The first question wide receiver Randy Moss, a sure-fire Hall of Fame candidate, was asked Tuesday: Does he want to return for a 15th season?
"I've thought about it," said Moss, 35. "I do want to play another year."
With San Francisco?
"I don't know about that," he said. "Next question."
Moss did not play in 2011, but he said he wasn't ready to leave the game. He said he needed to address some family issues that have since been resolved. During that time, he watched the NFL on television and realized he not only missed the game, he loved it.
"I really did cry. I really did," he said. "I mean, I love this game of football so much. I mean, I don't like everything that comes with it. But going out on the field between the white lines is something I've always done. I've been doing it since I was 6 years old. For me to just walk away from the game knowing I wasn't ready, mentally or physically, it really hurt me and it really depressed me."
Cleared and confident Wide receiver Michael Crabtree said he always was certain nothing would come of the sexual assault allegations made against him following the 49ers' win over the Green Bay Packers on Jan. 12.
After an investigation, the San Francisco District Attorney's Office announced no charges would be filed against Crabtree. He played in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 20 against the Atlanta Falcons with the issue unresolved.
"I knew that whole time, but it was something that we had to deal with," Crabtree said. "I respect the system and whatever they had to do."