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Alex Smith, Patrick Mahomes II form mutual admiration society

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Alex Smith has been where Patrick Mahomes II is now, a highly regarded young quarterback learning his craft at football’s highest level.

Mahomes wants to get to the point where Smith is now, a long established starter in the NFL. Smith knows the difficulty of making the transition from college to pro.

So there’s quite a bit of admiration between the two Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks. For his part, Smith said he is impressed with how advanced Mahomes is at this point, particularly considering he played in a spread offensive system at Texas Tech.

“For sure,’’ Smith said, speaking from experience. “It’s a whirlwind. There’s a lot of expectations on you and you’re juggling a lot and you’re thinking about a million different things and you’re getting coached on a ton of stuff and I think it’s hard on a young guy. Sometimes it’s easy to become robotic out there, right? You’ve got so much coaching going on out there and it’s hard on game day, at least it was hard for me sometimes, just to flip back into playing. You were trying so hard to make my feet right, make my fundamentals right, that I was getting coached on. That took me a long time to kind of get back into [playing] mode.’’

Smith, like Mahomes this year, was a first-round draft pick in 2005 by the San Francisco 49ers. Unlike Mahomes, he was the No. 1 overall pick with heavy immediate expectations. He was the starter when the preseason began, but struggled and was on the bench when the regular season started. He didn’t get back into the lineup until the regular season was well under way.

Mahomes, by contrast, has handled the preseason well through two games. He led the Chiefs on two touchdown drives in two chances last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, both ending in TD passes.

“I think Pat is much better at that, way more fluid at that, being able to handle the coaching,’’ Smith said. “Once the whistle blows out there, you want to get back to just playing quarterback, right? There are a lot of things that he does instinctively and has done that have gotten him here. You don’t want to lose that even though you are getting coached on a gazillion different things. You just want to get back to playing ball. I think he does a great job of that naturally, just cutting that loose, taking the coaching, but once it’s time to play, just go play.’’

Mahomes, meanwhile, said he admires the consistency and smarts of Smith, who is heading into his 13th NFL season.

“Just how efficient he is,’’ Mahomes said. “It seems like he always has a plan. He always knows, ‘If they play this defense, I’m going to go here,’ and, ‘If they play this defense, I’m going there.’

“He can get himself out of certain situations and it’s something you just learn from every single time you watch it. I’m getting closer and closer every single day, [but] it’s something he’s built a career on, just making sure he has a plan and making sure he has a way to make something happen on every single play. I just learn. I watch and do what I can to make sure I get to that level.’’