Dilfer OK with backup role on 49ers
STATELINE – Despite quarterbacking a Super Bowl victory and throwing for 105 more career touchdowns than Alex Smith, Trent Dilfer goes into the San Francisco 49ers’ training camp as the backup.
But you know what? The veteran of 12 NFL seasons is fine that Smith – a rookie bust in 2005 – is leading the 49ers into camp.
“I came in knowing that I am the backup to Alex Smith. I fully understand that, but that doesn’t mean anything to me,” Dilfer said following a practice round at the American Century Championship on Wednesday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
“Like Alex and I have talked about, I’m gonna try to be the best quarterback on the football team. By doing that, it’s going to make him better. We’re going to help each other. That’s always the way I’ve done it in this league and it’s been very successful.”
But there is some consolation to Dilfer’s plight – he’s coming home.
“That’s the best part,” said Dilfer, who was raised in Aptos and starred at Fresno State University. “I grew up watching the 49ers in their heyday. All of our closest friends and family are around the Bay Area or nearby.
“We’re just so excited to finish up my career in a place that is so dear to me.”
Dilfer has continually needed to prove himself in every NFL stop, which has included Cleveland, Baltimore, Seattle and Tampa Bay. And he usually rises to the top. Dilfer led the Baltimore Ravens past the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV in 2001.
“Things that drive me are my faith and my family but also competition,” he said. “I’m addicted to competition, and some people say that’s bad, but I thrive off it in every area of my life. It’s what makes me tick, whether it’s on the golf course or playing cards or football, I try to be the best that I can be.
“I wouldn’t trade a thing, because what’s happened in my career has made me a stronger person, better person and ultimately a better husband and father.”
The NFL has recognized Dilfer’s strong character as he won the 2002 Bart Star Award for being the player who showed the best leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.
Dilfer’s desire to win celebrity golf’s biggest prize has gotten the best of his emotions from time to time, but that didn’t happen a year ago when he finished runner-up to Billy Joe Tolliver.
“I didn’t actually feel like I played great last year,” Dilfer said. “What I did last year real well was stay patient and I never got too up or down over one particular shot.”
Prior to last year’s runner-up finish, Dilfer had placed fourth in the ACC in 1997 and 2000.
With his emotions under control, Dilfer has another reason why he thinks he can take home the championship trophy to his Incline Village home on Sunday.
“I’m playing better than I was last year,” he said. “You really have to control your emotions, control your game and stay within yourself and be opportunistic and capitalize on momentum.”
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