MIAMI — There have been several former 49ers quarterbacks who have played for the Chiefs. One who doesn't play for them anymore still played a big part in getting them to Super Bowl 54: Alex Smith.

But this isn't about Smith having his best seasons in Kansas City to establish Andy Reid's offense as consistently one of the league's most dangerous. This is more about how the team subliminally followed what happened to Smith with San Francisco — taking his floor and raising it through the ceiling with another QB.

The 49ers wouldn't have gotten to their most recent Super Bowl before Sunday, seven years ago against the Ravens, had they not made the bold move to replace a winning, efficient Smith with a higher-upside Colin Kaepernick. The same goes for the Chiefs this year, against these 49ers.

The decision to aggressively trade up and draft Mahomes No. 1 overall three years ago looks like a no-brainer now, but it was very risky for coach Andy Reid at the time. Smith was coming off a Pro Bowl season and with Mahomes being "red-shirted" as a rookie in 2017, Smith was motivated to post career highs in passing yards, yards per attempt, passing TDs and passer rating.

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Thanks to GM Brett Veach calling Mahomes "the greatest player he had ever seen" — something Reid revealed on Super Bowl Opening Night — the Chiefs reached for a potential superstar and caught him.

What resulted was the Chiefs getting rewarded for what few NFL teams have the guts to do — working to upgrade a very good QB situation into an all-time one. The transition of offensive power to being more electric was much like the 49ers going from Smith to Kaepernic

k, only smoother and with real staying power at a higher level.

“I don’t know if there was any difficulty in it," Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka said of the transition. "The biggest part was those two guys handled it so well, that as a coach, you didn’t need to worry about stepping on anybody’s toes." 

Mahomes wouldn't have become the immediate MVP Mahomes without absorbing and inheriting a strong system from Smith.

"They were so ingrained the game plan, Pat was so ingrained in learning the offense, following what Alex was doing on a daily basis. They were feeding off each other, Kafka said. "Alex had a heck of the year that last year we went to playoffs with him. Pat was just trying to put his own stamp on it.”

Veach and Reid were all in on making the bold move, but the players had to be sold that bringing in Mahomes would push forward an established consistent playoff team and not have it be curbed by sudden QB growing pains.

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Once Mahomes showed his teammates a hint of what he could do, there came a realization his play could bring out their best.

“We won a lot of football games with Alex, so having a new guy coming in, my first view was, 'OK, we’re going to roll with a different quarterback eventually,'" Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher said. “We’ve had a couple special years with Pat, doing some tremendous stuff. Ten years from now, I’ll be looking back and saying it was fun blocking for Pat."

It would not have worked unless Smith was gracious and Mahomes was tenacious. The Chiefs built on the 49ers' blueprint and perfected it with a steady incumbent and a spectacular heir apparent.

“I haven’t seen a lot of players with his leadership," Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman said of Mahomes. "His ability to come over, take a team over — he did a great job.”

Consider how Mahomes' amazing second-year MVP numbers in '18 — passing yards, yards per attempt, passing TDs and passer rating — quickly trumped Smith's career highs in '17. 

Although Smith is gone from the team and won't be forgotten, the Chiefs made the tough but absolutely necessary call to go after and roll with Mahomes. As good as Smith was for Reid, it would've been hard to imagine then how the offense's passing potential would've had limitations vs. what it is now with Mahomes.

Once the newness was gone with Mahomes, the Chiefs shot for the moon and didn't miss.

“Seeing Alex leave, it was kind of tough. But then again, I had to understand the business side of the game and how the game was evolving," Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill said. "Alex and I had a thing going on, so with Patrick, it was like I was on 'The Bachelor' again. But it was pretty quick to get it going with Patrick.”

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Smith also helped the 49ers get to a conference championship game, but Kaepernick's downfield passing and athleticism, albeit in a short window, were the dynamics needed to get to Super Bowl 47. The offense the Chiefs will field with Mahomes in Super Bowl 54 was simply the team they were really meant to be.

One thing is for sure: Now that they're flying highest at the game's most important position, the Chiefs are thrilled to be stuck with Mahomes.

“He’s a different guy, especially when he’s preparing for a game — his mindset, attitude, everything about him," Hill said. "That’s why I love him and don’t want to play with any other quarterback.”

The 49ers have rebounded well in a different direction from what it could have been with Kaepernick. The difference is, the Chiefs have a keeper in Mahomes for fully believing he would be than Smith — and everyone else.