Chiefs OC Pederson calls Alex Smith 'the best in the league'
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Jim Harbaugh once proclaimed Alex Smith an elite quarterback, but Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson has kicked the praise for Smith up a notch ... or three. 

“Ultimately, every team has to have a quarterback. I think we have the best in the league,” Pederson told the Kansas City Star on Thursday.

Colin Kaepernick became the 49ers' starting quarterback midway through last season when Smith was sidelined with a concussion.  The 49ers traded Smith to Kansas City in the offseason for a second-round pick in this year's draft and a conditional pick in 2014. 

Pederson also told the Star, “There are a lot of great ones, but over time, Alex has proven he can get it done. He’s a sharp guy, he brings a wealth of knowledge, he’s experienced, he’s a proven winner the last couple of years, and he needs a team to embrace him.”

[RELATED: Alex Smith career stats | 2012 game logs]

That last quote from Pederson is a bit odd, since Jim Harbaugh did seem to go out of his way to embrace Smith -- and tout him -- in Harbaugh's first season with the 49ers, even when fans had serious doubts about the former No. 1 overall pick.