When asked if he believes in karma Alex Smith smiled. That's something he does a lot these days.

"No" Smith said. "But I do believe in hard work and doing things the right way. Over time if it's karma or whatever you want to call it I think doing things the right way working hard and focusing on the details makes good things happen."

Good things are happening to Smith. After an emotionally wrenching season when he was jettisoned by the only NFL team he'd ever known he is now the quarterback of the 5-0 Chiefs. The Chiefs appreciate and have complete faith in him. That's something he never really had in eight tumultuous years with the 49ers.

Friday in a post-practice interview at the Chiefs' training complex Smith was relaxed. After being instrumental in the turnaround of the hapless 49ers Smith has another reclamation project.

"I know what it's like to get that wheel turning slowly and then getting some momentum" he said. "I feel like this is almost an identical situation to 2011. We really underachieved the year before and then with a coaching change things started to happen."

The Chiefs 2-14 last season and tied for the league's worst record are this year's surprise team. There are similarities to the 49ers who were pathetic under head coach Mike Singletary in 2010 and flourished with virtually the same set of players the next year under Jim Harbaugh.

But there are differences. Though the Chiefs had six Pro Bowl players last season the roster has been overhauled with 30 newcomers Smith leading the way. He came in with Andy Reid a well-respected coach but one who has endured his own share of humbling experiences.

"I realize how special it is when the chemistry is right in an organization and how many things go into that" Smith said. "It's easy to say but hard to get done. As I've gotten older I've gotten better at identifying that and I appreciate how hard it is to get."

Bitterness held at bay
His personal knowledge of how fleeting success can be helps keep any animosity or bitterness about his 49ers experience at bay.

"I have none. Honestly" Smith said. "There's no question I thought I should have played last year. But I'm so happy that I'm here.

"They (Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke) gave me an opportunity that changed the trajectory of my career. And I'm thankful for that."

Clear-eyed about his past Smith sees the benefit of the many tribulations he endured. Those seven different offensive systems and seven different coordinators? It helped him quickly absorb Reid's offensive system and communicate it to his teammates.

"His knowledge base is so large" said backup Chase Daniel. "He's seen literally every type of offense you can run. He's excited to really get down to the grit of our offense."

Reid won't compare Smith to the quarterbacks he coached in Philadelphia but he is thrilled to have him.

"I love what he's doing" Reid said. "He makes people around him better and that's very important in his job. He's in charge of the offense."

Smith who toiled under two defensive-minded head coaches sees similarities in Reid and Harbaugh from the place they stand on the field - directly behind him - to their presence in the quarterbacks' meeting room. They both read defenses with him and give him instant feedback.

Growth evident
At 29 Smith is one of the Chiefs' elder statesmen. With age comes perspective on what his 21-year old self went through in 2005 coming from a spread offense at Utah to the NFL.

"I think back to my rookie year and I had no shot" Smith said. "It was just a disaster. It was so foreign to me. I was so young and I hadn't been under center for so long. I didn't even play with a tight end in college and all of a sudden I've got two tight ends and a fullback and I'm staring at 10 guys in the box.