NEW ORLEANS — Wave after wave they came at 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, as unrelenting as the Baltimore Ravens' defense.
Smith stood tall amid the crush of media day reporters Tuesday at the Superdome. His was strictly a ground-level session, while some 30 yards away, Colin Kaepernick answered questions at an elevated podium along with coach Jim Harbaugh and 12 other high-profile 49ers.
It's been that way since Week 11, when Smith was held out with a concussion and Kaepernick flourished against the Chicago Bears, providing the impetus for Harbaugh to replace a starting quarterback who was completing 70.2 percent of his passes.
Smith still is enough of a story to generate considerable media interest, with hundreds of reporters taking turns getting close enough to watch and listen to him play the good soldier.
The only trace of an edge came when it was suggested that perhaps Smith ought to be rooting for Kaepernick to throw five interceptions Sunday in Super Bowl XLVII.
"I think that's disgusting. Why do you play football?" Smith said. "Why do you play a team sport? If it's all about yourself, go play golf or tennis. I'm not saying all this has been easy. It hasn't. But if you can't be happy for a teammate's success, there's something wrong with you."
Smith unwittingly made the news cycle Monday when Profootballtalk.com reported he would demand a release rather than wait for a possible trade. Smith is due a $7.5 million bonus should he be on the roster April 1, giving the 49ers incentive to move him.
"I don't know where this stuff comes from," Smith said, labeling the information "ridiculous."
Harbaugh said Monday that Smith has been doing as much coaching for Kaepernick as anyone else. Smith shrugged off the compliment, but quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst said Smith's familiarity with Utah's spread offense has made for valuable contributions since the 49ers have added elements of the pistol and spread formations.
"He's actually watching tape and saying, 'We might want to do this, we might want to go there,'"?" Chryst said. "It's a testament to who he is and how he's wired."
Scott Tolzien, the 49ers' No. 3 quarterback, said he could "write an essay about what it means to be a pro just from watching Alex. The most impressive thing to me is that when he wasn't starting, nothing changed in our quarterback room. I mean, nothing."
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman credited Smith's tutoring of Kaepernick and also leans on Smith in terms of strategy.
LEWIS DISMISSES REPORT OF PED USE: Of all the topics Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis wanted to talk about at Super Bowl media day, deer-antler spray probably was not on the list.
He declined to directly address in any detail Tuesday questions about a Sports Illustrated report that he sought help from a company that makes the unorthodox product to speed up his recovery from a torn right triceps. Lewis was the NFL's leading tackler in the playoffs after missing 10 regular-season games with the injury.
The company, Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS), says its deer-antler substance contains a banned performance-enhancer connected to human growth hormone.
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The 37-year-old Lewis, who has announced he will retire after playing against the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's Super Bowl, dismissed the report as "stupidity."
NFL HONORS: "NFL Honors," A TV show featuring The Associated Press awards, will air Saturday night, Super Bowl eve, from 7-9 p.m. MT on CBS, which also is televising the game on Sunday.
The AP will present the league's MVP, Coach of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, and Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year during "NFL Honors."