49ers choose Talents over Troubles with Aldon Smith
Despite the difficult times their troubled linebacker has faced in the last year, the San Francisco 49ers picked up the fifth year option on Aldon Smith before the league deadline. The move was a show of “family” if you listen to the quotes from the front office. Others might say giving up on a 24 year old player with 42 sacks in 43 games was too much of a risk to take.
San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke told reporters this week when asked about Aldon Smith, “We’re a family. You don’t just open the door and toss people out of it. You continue to work until they leave you no choice.”
The troubled Smith missed five games last season after being pulled over while driving and charged with felony gun charges and a drunken driving charge. The event lead Smith to enter an treatment center and the case has a May 12 scheduled; Smith could also face a suspension from the National Football League for his actions regardless of how the case is settled in court.
Aldon Smith was also arrested April 13 at Los Angeles International Airport for making a fake bomb threat while trying to board a flight. It is believed that officials in that case are opening reducing that case and only pursuing misdemeanor charges against Smith. A day after his arrest in Southern California, a psychological evaluation about Smith done prior to the 2011 NFL Draft became public. What should have been a confidential report stated Smith was high-risk for off field troubles.
The 49ers’ decision effectively brought them time. The 2015 option they picked up calls for Aldon Smith to make $9.754 Million in 2015 and is only guaranteed if Smith suffers an injury during the upcoming season. The team can still release Smith before the end of the league’s year in March, that move would release the 49ers of owning any money to Smith and avoid any salary cap hit in 2015.
Exercising the 2015 option probably also saved the team some money. If San Francisco had not used their option on Aldon Smith’s contract, he would have become a free agent after the 2014 season. The team could still have used the franchise tag on him; however, that would have seen Smith paid between $12 and $13 Million in 2015.
In the end, while the timing of the move may not have been ideal for the 49ers organization, from a business standpoint it was their best move all the way around and one almost any team with a player of Aldon Smith’s talents would have made.
Their quest now should be to attend to the needs of Aldon Smith the person as much as his needs as an athlete. If they don’t find out and address what Smith needs to stay right in his mind, that the only thing his body will do is get both himself and the San Francisco 49ers in trouble.