According to a report, San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke disputed a recent report that the organization was ready to move on from linebacker Aldon Smith, telling reporters the 49ers don’t want to “toss” aside for former All-Pro.
The 49ers face a May 3 deadline to exercise a $9.75 million option on Smith for the 2015 season and Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News and Adam Schefter of ESPN reported recently that the 49ers were unlikely to do so. Kawakami went further, citing sources “involved with the 49ers’ decision-making,” that Smith’s status with the club for 2014 was in jeopardy.
But Baalke, when asked if he hopes Smith is still with the 49ers in 2014 and 2015, said: “And in 2016 and 2017 and 2018 … You don’t just open the door and toss people out.” (h/t ESPN.com)
Baalke did say the team is “disappointed” with Smith’s continued run-ins with law enforcement.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said Thursday it has passed Smith’s arrest at Los Angeles International Airport earlier this month to the city attorney’s office, where it will be determined whether or not to charge Smith with a misdemeanor.
Smith is also facing a court appearance on Tuesday related to felony gun and DUI charges in Santa Clara County and will also likely face disciplinary action from the NFL.
Smith is an enormously talented player, as evidenced by his franchise single-season record 19.5 sacks in 2012. That came after he recorded 14 sacks in part-time duty as a rookie in 2011.
Last season, Smith missed five games after his September arrest for DUI, when he checked himself into a rehabilitation facility, He finished the regular season with 8.5 sacks and 34 tackles. He went on to post 3.5 sacks and 11 tackles, along with a forced fumble, in the 49ers’ three playoff games, including two sacks in the NFC Championship loss at Seattle on Jan. 19.
There is always a talent component to decisions about players who have off-the-field issues. Smith has a lot of talent to use on the talent-tolerance scale. That said, the 24-year-old has created more headaches and negative headlines for the organization than most of the rest of the roster combined and, from a purely cynical point of view, one has to think he’d already be gone if his sack total for his three-year career was 10 or 12 instead of 42.