SANTA CLARA — Alex Smith left no doubt Wednesday he wasn't willing to remain Colin Kaepernick's backup and instead thoroughly embraced a trade that sent him to the Kansas City Chiefs.
"I made it very clear to the 49ers I wanted to play, didn't want to sit there and wasn't ready to be a backup," Smith said at his introductory news conference in Kansas City. "They made it clear they weren't going to release me.
"There was no doubt in my mind this is where I wanted to be. It wasn't even close."
In exchange for the eight-year veteran quarterback, the 49ers received the Chiefs' second-round pick next month (No. 34 overall) and a conditional third-round pick in 2014.
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey declined to explain that compensation package, other than to say: "We felt Alex was the best option for us. As you get a chance to meet him, you'll realize what a special individual he is."
Smith was drafted No. 1 overall in 2005 by the 49ers, and after some up-and-down seasons, he led the 49ers into the NFC Championship Game during the 2011 season, highlighted by his late-game heroics in a playoff-opening win over the New Orleans Saints.
A Nov. 13 concussion sent Smith to the bench last season, and Kaepernick came in to spark the 49ers' run to Super Bowl XLVII.
"When our season was done, for me, I wasn't going to get released, and options were kind of laid out," Smith said. "For me, without a doubt, the Chiefs were the team I wanted to be, even before I knew they were an option."
The Chiefs went 2-14 last season and hold the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft. Along with hiring Dorsey to oversee their personnel, they hired Philadelphia Eagles castoff Andy Reid as their coach.
Reid confirmed that he's long been interested in Smith: "He was someone where if I had the chance I wanted him on my team. I inquired about him periodically with the 49ers."
Smith served as a 49ers captain last season, and he gained further admiration for how professionally he handled his demotion.
"Obviously he's a fine football player but even a better person," Reid added. "That's welcomed here. His leadership is something this team will benefit from and build around."
Smith didn't necessarily credit his career revival to Jim Harbaugh's arrival as 49ers coach in 2011, although Smith did explain a culture shift within the organization.
"I wasn't doing anything different," Smith said. "It got back to football. Where we were, it became about playing football and not the exterior things that can creep into this game at this level."
Reid had stated he was determined to find the next Len Dawson, the former Chiefs quarterback who's enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Asked if Smith fits that criteria, Reid acknowledged Dawson's presence at the news conference and replied: "We're going to work on getting Alex into the Hall of Fame. I'm privileged to be in a room with two great ones."