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Notebook: Alex still playing the good soldier

Alex Smith ran off the field at Candlestick Park two weeks ago to a standing ovation and cheers from the sellout crowd, not much different from the reception last January when he took the 49ers oh so close to a Super Bowl. Now relegated to a backup role with the NFC champions, Smith's trip to the Big Easy this week leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl against Baltimore is hardly how he envisioned it.

This used to be his team. Now, he plays Joe Flacco in practice. Smith expected to be under center chasing the franchise's sixth championship, not watching strong-armed second-year pro Colin Kaepernick direct the offense against Ravens star Ray Lewis and Co. ''I think a lot's being made of that. For one, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a little bittersweet,'' Smith said. ''Yeah, I want to be out...

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