The rumblings that the San Francisco 49ers weren't going to pick up Aldon Smith's fifth-year option was clearly a scare tactic, or maybe a public-relations play, but we all knew that, right?
It never made sense for the 49ers to not pick up the 2015 option for about $9.75 million on Smith, their elite pass-rushing outside linebacker. They made it official on Friday afternoon (that's when teams or any organizations like to announce potentially controversial news, by the way). Smith has been in trouble off the field, and the most recent incident claiming he had a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport led to plenty of reports the 49ers might just be ready to cut ties. But if the 49ers really wanted to get rid of a player like Smith, they could have done so at any time.
Picking up the option for Smith was an easy call for the team. The money isn't guaranteed except for injury. It gives the team a year to see if Smith can stay out of trouble. The 49ers might not have felt they could exercise the option right after the LAX incident, and leaking their bluff to the media was fairly standard. They need something to let Smith know they're serious and he needs to get on the right track. By the time general manager Trent Baalke made his eye-rolling claim about standing by a family member in regards to Smith, picking up the option was all but a formality.
Picking up the option doesn't mean the 49ers will definitely keep Smith in 2015. It doesn't even mean they'll keep him in 2014, although they clearly will unless Smith does something else dumb (stay tuned). It was a standard move with little risk involved, and clearly the 49ers were going to do it.
Whether this all means that Smith will be a 49er for the foreseeable future, that will be up to him.
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