Once upon a time, Trent Dilfer had to put Alex Smith in his place

Ben Krimmel
October 05, 2018 - 12:16 pm
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Journeyman NFL quarterback and Super Bowl XXXV champion Trent Dilfer was brought to San Francisco in 2007 to help mentor their young quarterback Alex Smith. 

Smith was entering his third NFL season and looking to build upon his first full season as a starter the previous year. Dilfer was looking for an opportunity, not to play, but to transition into a player-coach role for Mike Nolan's 49ers. 

"I was brought there with a very specific reason by Scot McCloughan and Norv Turner," Dilfer said on the Dual Threat With Ryen Russillo podcast. "And that was to mentor Alex Smith. Teach him how to be a pro, teach him how to do life, every element of it." 

Naturally, part of being a mentor is making sure that your mentee respects you enough to listen to your advice. And sometimes the mentor must remind the mentee of their place. 

Dilfer recounts that during OTAs, Smith was taking the lion's share of the reps with the offense and Dilfer was more than happy with the arrangement as he recovered from various injuries. 

"We're in the spring and Alex one day is frustrated and he's pissed off and he does his seven reps and kind of gives me the Heisman and says, 'Stay back. I'm gonna take your reps,'" Dilfer said. "And I go OK. He's sprouting his wings a little bit, show a little stuff. And a couple of the veteran offensive linemen are looking at him going, 'Oh, no you didn't. No you did not just do that to Trent.'"  

Next day Smith does the same thing so Dilfer decides he must learn a lesson. And Dilfer knows who to turn to: the 49ers' team security guy who just so happened to be a former FBI agent. 

"I go to him and, we had done this one time in Seattle, so I was familiar with what I was asking," Dilfer said. "One of our FBI buddies got me this clear powder that they use for money laundering. And this clear powder goes over bills, you don't know it is on the bills, and once you touch the bill, the powder gets on your hand and once you sweat or get water on you it turns you purple."

Team security agreed to help Dilfer as soon as he heard this clear powder was to teach the 49ers' young QB a lesson. Dilfer gets a the powder the next day.

"I get there at 5:30 (a.m.). And I get into his locker, I take out his laundry bag, I take out his girdle, his socks, his (shirt), everything," Dilfer said. "And I carefully put this powder all over his stuff." 

Smith arrives at six for his normal weightlifting regiment. Dilfer, laying in wait, watches Smith begin to turn purple. 

"He walks out and there are seven or eight guys in the locker room and he has purple streaks all over him: It is on his face, it is on his hands, his hands are almost completely purple, his fingers are purple, his groin area is purple. He is purple. He looks like Barney," Dilfer said.  

The best part of that story, in Dilfer's mind, is Smith was going to Yosemite National Park on his first big weekend getaway with his future wife, Elizabeth. And he is purple. Smith would remain purple for almost 10 days, Dilfer said.

"Alex is going to listen to this and get pissed that I told this story, but Alex and I have a great relationship, and I respect him as much as any human in the NFL. But he is going to be pissed I'm telling this story," Dilfer said. 

(39:55)

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