The unbelievable odyssey that has been former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith's NFL career got some positive news last week.
After fracturing his tibula and fibula on a devastating sack back in 2018 with the Washington NFL Team, Smith has been cleared to resume full football activities.
Smith has spent the past two-plus years rehabilitating and recovering from an injury that required him to undergo 17 surgeries and nearly lose his right leg. His journey back to football was chronicled by ESPN in a documentary called "Project 11," for which Smith was shooting an update when he shared the news.
"Everyone was in agreement that my bone was in a really good place," Smith told ESPN on Friday. "I had healed a lot. They said that given the combination of the rod and where I was with the healing process, I had zero limitations and could even resume some football activities.
"To hear them say that, from a life standpoint, they wouldn't restrict me from doing anything -- I could go skiing or snowboarding tomorrow if I wanted -- then on top of that, to get the green light that I could practice, get contact, that I had healed up, that much was pretty wild to hear. I didn't know if I would ever hear those words."
The QB was drafted by the 49ers at No. 1 overall in 2005, in a relentlessly second-guessed choice with future MVP Aaron Rodgers also being on the board that year. Smith battled through a myriad of coaching and personnel changes in San Francisco, but was the team's starter until 2012. After an injury, then-49ers coach Jim Harbaugh turned the reins over to young backup Colin Kaepernick, who led San Francisco to the Super Bowl in a thrilling playoff run.
Even after being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs before the 2013 season, Smith was their QB1 for a handful of seasons, before eventual NFL and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes overtook him in 2018.
Smith finally landed with Washington in 2018, starting 10 games before the injury. Given that he's the franchise quarterback for a franchise facing a myriad of public relations issues over the team's former "Redskins" moniker and a significant number of sexual assault allegations from former team employees, Smith was asked, and spoke candidly about the organization.
"We're football players and out on the field, but there are a lot of parts of the building that go into game day and a season and the whole business side of the building, and to hear that some of this had been going on, I certainly don't think players ever knew about it. But it's not something any of us are proud of, and it needs to be changed," Smith said.
"I have a wife, a daughter, two sisters, and to ever think about something like that happening to them disgusts me and pisses me off; so hopefully, we get to where we need to be -- an environment and a culture that's acceptable for everybody and lets everybody thrive and is safe for everybody."
Smith still has a long way to go before he can step back onto the gridiron with his teammates for an NFL game, but his progress so far after such a gruesome injury has been nothing short of inspiring.
[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]