Smith-Kaepernick situation stirs up Brady-Bledsoe memories

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Smith-Kaepernick situation stirs up Brady-Bledsoe memories

FOXBORO -- When San Francisco starting quarterback Alex Smith got injured this year his backup was pressed into service.
But that backup, 25-year old Colin Kaepernick, played well, well enough that the starter's job was no longer guaranteed.
Sound familiar?
Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe might think so.
In March of 2001, Bledsoe signed a 10-year, 103 million dollar contract with New England. He never got to earn that new money with the Patriots, however, as a tackle in the season's second game sheared a blood vessel in his chest. Brady stepped in under center. When Bledsoe recovered, he found the climate in New England quite changed.
You know the story.
In light of the 49ers upcoming visit to Gillette, Brady reflected on his mindset during the experience.
"Individually, as a player, you just focus on what you have to do to help the team win. I mean, that's your role. When you're on a team, you're supposed to support the team in whatever way the coach needs you to support the team. So, when you're not playing you support the guys who are playing -- you help out in practice. When you get your opportunity you try to go in there and support the team by playing.
"Ultimately, it's about winning games, it's not about an individual. It's about doing what's best for the team. When you play, you've got to play well."
San Francisco's Smith, who suffered a concussion November 11, was medically cleared for play 11 days later. But it's Kaepernick who started the next four games. It's Kaepernick who will start against the AFC East champion Patriots this weekend.
Might Smith be angry? Is it at least awkward?
Brady was asked what it was like when the backup starts by choice, not necessity.
"That was a long time ago for me. But there was nothing like that on our team. I had great support from all the quarterbacks, especially Drew, at the time. I don't really know what's going on in San Francisco."
Bledsoe might not have been a monster, but he was no saint.
You may remember No. 11's reaction when, after New England's November 18, 2001 loss to the Rams, head coach Bill Belichick said Brady would get most of the quarterback snaps for the rest of the season.
"I look forward to the chance to compete for my job," Bledsoe had said.
But the job was Brady's.
Looking at it now, his view sounds flatly analytical. Easy to do after a decade, perhaps.
"Like I said, you just try to focus on your job. There's a lot of players that you count on; they depend on you and you depend on them. It's a team game. That's why the best teams win the most important games, because they've got a group of players that are committed to doing their job. Like I said, if your role is to play quarterback, your role is to play quarterback; you've got to do as best you can. If your role is to play scout team quarterback, that's what your role is.
"Until that role changes, you've got to do the best you can do."
It's safe to say Brady has done ok with the opportunity he got.