Smith already a SI coverboy

It didn't take long for Alex Smith to land on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Smith is featured on the cover of this week's issue that hit newsstands Wednesday, become the first 49ers player to appear on the front of the magazine since 2002.

Smith is featured this week sharing the cover with Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle, Texas running back Cedric Benson and Auburn running back Ronnie Brown. Each player is wearing the No. 1 jersey of their new teams – Smith in 49ers cardinal red, Rolle in the cardinal red of the Arizona Cardinals, Benson in the navy blue of the Chicago Bears and Brown in the aqua of the Miami Dolphins.

Rolle and Brown have their hands on Smith's shoulder while Smith, not surprisingly, has his hands on the football.

Smith is featured in the issue – billed as SI's NFL Draft Special – in a story by Peter King detailing the contrasting draft days experienced Saturday by Smith and Aaron Rodgers, the Cal quarterback who also was one of the finalists for the Niners' No. 1 overall pick. When the Niners passed over Rodgers for Smith, Rodgers dropped all the way to the No. 24 overall selection, where he finally was grabbed by the Green Bay Packers.

Surprisingly, Smith is the first 49er to grace the SI cover since December of 2002, when former Niners defensive end Chike Okeafor shared the spotlight with Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre in an action shot that showed Favre fending off the hard-charging Okeafor on a passing play.

Before that, you have to go back to the twilight of the team's dynasty in 1998, when guard Kevin Gogan – a two-time Pro Bowler for the Niners – was featured on the cover as part of a package that included a story regarding the NFL's dirtiest players.

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