Smith finished in San Francisco

By Chris Kamrani, Asst. Sports Editor

He was cast into the fire, expected to follow in the footsteps of the legendary ghosts in the city by the bay.

After three seasons in the NFL, former Utah quarterback Alex Smith is done. And by done, you can apply every sense of the term.

Kaput. Over. Spent.

The fall from grace that was, and is, Smith, surely is a melancholy tale.

The former Heisman Trophy finalist was put on the 49er injured reserve last week on account of what doctors found out was a broken right shoulder.

Terminado. Fini. Finito.

While Smith has undoubtedly seen his last days in a 49er uniform, it remains to be seen if he will ever take another NFL snap.

As I discussed Smith and his injury with some prominent local sports journalists, I tossed in my two cents.

“I wonder if he’ll be back next year,” I said.

“Nope,” the journalist said. “Done. Done.”

“You really think so?” I asked.

“Done. Forever,” he or she said.

The aspirations and expectations for Smith were soaring after he led the Utes to an undefeated season and an unprecedented Fiesta Bowl victory.

Then newly-appointed Niners head coach Mike Nolan saw his prodigal son. He saw a kid transform a subterranean program into the Phoenix Suns of college football. He saw a kid who could barely buy a six-pack from 7-Eleven, who graduated from the U in two years and scored a 40 (out of 50) on the NFL’s Wonderlic test, which is like an IQ test for football quarterbacks.

He was supposed to exorcise Niner nightmares of predecessors such as Jeff Garcia, Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey.

Imposters. It’s pretty hard when you8212;as a 49er fan8212;have for 20 years arduously sweated and spilled blood into five Lombardi trophies.

The next Joe Montana or Steve Young? Almost as fallacious as dubbing Vince Young the next Michael Vick. Yikes.

The sadness of the Smith saga is8212;looking back on it now8212;the poor guy had no chance in hell. God bless Eddie DeBartolo Jr. and his flourishing talents as owner of the 49ers, but it’s too bad he wasn’t there for Smith as he was there for Montana and Young through the dark nights.

Despite his gambling corruption scandals, DeBartolo was a shining light when compared to brother-in-law and current chief of the Niners, John York. This is the same guy who wanted to sell the 49ers, and there were whispers of a potential move. You get the point, right?

Smith had no shot. He had this renowned cancer pathologist calling the shots. He had a coach in Nolan who turned on him faster than Urban Meyer signed for the U-Haul to Gainesville, Fla.

He was thrown to the dogs during his rookie season. One touchdown, 11 interceptions.

The following season, Smith’s revelation was offensive guru Norv Turner. Running back Frank Gore had a breakout year, and Smith played all 16 games. Sixteen turned out to be the number of the season for the former Ute as he tossed 16 touchdowns and 16 picks.

Smith flashed so bright at certain times over his first three years, he looked Montana-esque, making a few notable, game-winning drives. However, the kid who was the conductor of energy in the multifaceted Utah offense sustained a fall from which he could not recover. After injuring his shoulder in September 2007, it was all down hill from there. Having three different offensive coordinators in three seasons didn’t help the guy out either.

He didn’t return to form. The doubts were affirmed. The No. 1 kid can now wave goodbye to his first NFL franchise.

It raises questions of who is at fault. Smith? Nolan? York?

Essentially, it’s York and the way he has run a once-electrifying football city into a second-tier zoo.

People say Smith wasn’t ready, and it’s evident he wasn’t. If he had waited till 2006 to declare, he would have been picked behind the likes of Young, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler.

Coming off the high that was the Fiesta Bowl victory, Smith saw cash8212;$49.5 million to be exact.

The former All-American was never tutored along and was never fully entrusted with the team.

Anyway you look at it, Smith is on his way out8212;done8212;and can hit replay on Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

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Chris Kamrani