San Francisco 49ers

Kaepernick: Alex Smith’s class kept locker room strong in 2012

Colin Kaepernick today credited Alex Smith for helping keep the 49ers locker room stable during what could have been a rocky transition from Smith to Kaepernick during the 2012 season.

“One of the classiest people I’ve ever been around,” Kaepernick said. “Just all-around great guy. I don’t think anyone could have handled it any better than he did.”

Smith was in the midst of his best statistical season with the 49ers in 2012, and after eight seasons he had built strong friendships and on-field rapports with players, including tight end Vernon Davis and the offensive line, notably left tackle Joe Staley.

The way Smith handled the transition seemed to set a tone for the rest of locker room.

“I think he definitely made things go a lot smoother,” Kaepernick said. “The way he handled things -- he didn’t turn it into a controversy in the locker room and that just shows the character he has, not just as a player but as a man.”

As a testament to the resiliency of the locker room, the 49ers won the next game after the transition, which came in New Orleans, and then won five of their next seven before their eventual loss in the Super Bowl.

“Did he want to be on the field? Yes,” Kaepernick said of Smith. “ But he wasn’t going to let that get in the way of what the team was trying to do.”

Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers .

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