Alex Smith will not be known as a cut-and-runner, that much is guaranteed, which is the only thing that is guaranteed about his career so far.
It takes a certain wellspring of character to stick it out through thin and thin.
And it speaks to Smith's stubbornness and fateful timing that he has blossomed as the 49ers' singular leader now, precisely when they have selected another quarterback to replace him.
Smith is not the quarterback of the future; Colin Kaepernick is. And Smith isn't even signed as a 49er, though he is destined to sign a one-year deal whenever the lockout is lifted.
But in a situation that would cause other quarterbacks to immediately seek employment anywhere else, Smith has somehow emerged as the central organizing force for the players' unofficial workouts and beyond.
"It is different. I'm not even on the roster and I'm calling up guys to get this together," Smith said with a smile.
On Tuesday, more than six years after he was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, Smith ran with some teammates in the rain then spoke expansively about his past and future.
He talked about organizing the workouts during this uncertain lockout period and said that he is determined to get more players there for larger "mini-camp" practices very soon.
For example, Smith confirmed he has spoken to wide receiver Michael Crabtree about attending the workouts.
So where is Crabtree?
"Great question," Smith said bluntly. "Asking the wrong guy."
I should note: I have never seen Smith so comfortable in a command position or so keenly tuned to the circumstances involved and his ability to influence it.
Of course, this doesn't mean that he will succeed at quarterback for the 49ers in 2011, after six years of mostly failure.
Smith acknowledges this reality, but he also emphasizes that his new bond with coach Jim Harbaugh is something special.
Smith wouldn't be cajoling his teammates to join the workouts or scripting future sessions unless he believed in Harbaugh and knew that Harbaugh believed in him.
In a sense, I believe Harbaugh's arrival triggered a career catharsis for Smith: The 49ers might seem like the least appealing spot for Smith to be in 2011, which is one reason he decided it's the best.
"It would have been easier, to go to a new place, a fresh start, and maybe I should have," Smith said. "But at this point, I'm happy with where I'm at and really attempting to be about something different in this league."
There have been superstars and there have been quick flameouts among the history of No. 1 QB picks. But how many have stuck it out through six bad seasons and then managed to succeed in Year 7, right where he started?
If that is Smith's weird and stubborn destiny, he didn't want to be the one who ran away from the 49ers if they weren't running away from him.
"Nothing against decisions that other guys have made in the past, (but) I feel like it's such an easy way out," Smith said. "I don't know of any other guy that has ever attempted to do what I'm doing.
"If there's anything that I feel like I stand for as a person, not even a football player, it's that."
There are those of us who question why Smith didn't leave the 49ers many losses, injuries and controversies ago.
I understand why Smith is staying, and the toughness he is showing by doing so. But I wondered two years ago and I wonder now if he lacks some essential competitive piece of a winning NFL quarterback.
This is who he is; at this mature point, Smith is not disagreeing -- he is trying to take advantage of it.
Smith serenity now.
"Yeah, with (Kaepernick) drafted, it did remind me a lot of when I came in, and Tim Rattay," Smith said. "And I did think back about how good Tim was. How easy it would be to be bitter and to be an ass.
"Those guys did it the right way with me, and I'm going to do the same thing. Colin's a really nice guy."
Kaepernick is Harbaugh's choice, so again, we get back to the key: Harbaugh and Smith have hit it off, which has made all the difference.
"Here's a guy who's had a lot of success as a head coach, who played the quarterback position, an offensive mind," Smith said of Harbaugh.
"This is the first for me, to have an offensive head coach, especially someone who played the position and really knows what it's like to sit back in the pocket and all the different things that can impact your play."
So Smith is throwing himself into this role in a way he never did or could under previous regimes. He is, at the very least, the premier survivor on this franchise.
That counts for something.
"For this point, it's a year-to-year process," Smith said. "Hopefully for me you win enough games, play well enough this year that, you know, who knows?"
Nobody knows. Smith understands that better than anybody. He has the scars. He could have run, but he's still here.