If the 49ers really wanted to dump Smith, whose most recent off-field issue was an arrest at Los Angeles International Airport for saying he had a bomb, they would have done it right after that incident. Nothing was stopping them. Smith probably drives the 49ers nuts with his off-field problems, but you don't ditch an All-Pro pass rusher who's still just entering his prime.
General manager Trent Baalke took a tough love approach on Friday. Speaking publicly about Smith for the first time, Baalke said they're going to stand by the young player.
“I’m a firm believer in the humanistic approach to everything,” Baalke said. according to CSN Bay Area. “You continue to work, just like you would with any family member. We’re a family. You just don’t open the door and toss people out of it. You continue to work until they leave you no choice.”
Oh brother. Let's be honest, because nobody is fooled here. If Smith wasn't an elite pass rusher, would there really be the "humanistic approach" with a "family member"? Come on. You know the answer to that. We all do. If he couldn't rush the quarterback, the 49ers would be "sending a message that this behavior won't be accepted by the franchise." The 49ers' approach is not uncommon though. It's amazing how the most forgiving actions are always used with the guys who just happen to be good at football. Which is fine. Great teams need great players. Great players work with a separate set of rules at times. It's a business.
Luckily for Smith, he won't be charged with a felony in the LAX incident. The San Francisco Chronicle said the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has referred his case to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office for misdemeanor consideration.
As far as Smith's football fugure goes, the 49ers are going to hope all the scare tactics they used have worked.
"The one word I can use to describe the situation is disappointing," Baalke said. "But the important thing is that it’s equally disappointing to Aldon.”
Smith wasn't so disappointed when he reportedly was told by a TSA agent to move along after some additional screening and he escalated the situation out of nowhere by saying he had a bomb. But again, we all know the game that's being played here. It's disingenuous at best, but we'll wink and nod and try to keep the eye rolling to a minimum.
Baalke said he couldn't make it any clearer that he wanted Smith to be with the 49ers for a long time, although he didn't confirm that the player's fifth-year option will be picked up before the May 3 deadline. Seeing as how the public stance by the 49ers changed pretty dramatically in that press conference, it seems like that's the plan. And it's a smart business decision. There's no guaranteed money involved, and it gives the team control of an elite player for another year. They'd be crazy not to exercise that option.
The 49ers might be laying it on a little thick here, but at the end of the day, nobody's really going to blame them for the truth. They don't want to get rid of a great pass rusher who might help them win a Super Bowl. Nobody would.
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