According to San Jose Mercury News sports columnist Tim Kawakami he believes that San Francisco 49ers OLB Aldon Smith may be suspended for the entire 2014 season. Furthermore, he has spoken to sources close to the team and they are fed up with Smith’s off-field distractions. Below is the article he wrote as to what’s next for the young, talented, but troubled premier pass-rusher.
According to an NFL source, Chris Culliver was with Aldon Smith in the Southwest terminal Sunday, same flight, but was not involved in any of the trouble. Culliver is not presumed to have been spending time with Smith in L.A. It’s possible Culliver just happened to be there and was flying back on same flight.
But the source did allow that it is a wild convergence that the two 49ers players currently under felony charges were together when Smith was detained in another potentially very serious incident. Just that kind of offseason.
Right to the point: My view, after talking to several sources involved with the 49ers’ decision-making, is that troubled linebacker Aldon Smith hasn’t only lost the benefit of the doubt, he probably won’t play for the 49ers in 2014.
They also are on the hook for a guaranteed $3 million-plus to Smith and have time to see how this plays out before dumping him and throwing away the money (and letting him have the money for nothing, by the way).
But there is a weariness and frustration over Smith’s behavior that I’ve never heard involving any recent 49ers player. Until this week.
And this is coming from people with the team who defended Smith full-tilt after his DUI arrest last September and emphasized back then that he voluntarily was seeking help, which was a clear sign that he was ready to address his problems.
It’s a very, very different tone now. Starkly different.
49ers management — owner Jed York and G.M. Trent Baalke and the York family and everyone in there — is embarrassed and absolutely should be.
I’m told that Jim Harbaugh joins the consensus on this issue, too.
I’m also told that the weariness and frustration is mostly focused on Smith, and that team management supports Colin Kaepernick through the “suspicious incident” that Miami police are still investigating and that the 49ers are not planning to release Culliver despite his felony and misdemeanor hit-and-run charges recently.
Will there be a team statement on all the legal issues? I’m told the 49ers understand the P.R. nightmare, but that there will likely be no statement until at least after Smith’s April 29 hearing before a Santa Clara County district judge.
Point blank: The 49ers will let the legal process play out for Smith and there are not many expectations for him other than that, the source said.
Left unsaid: The 49ers now believe that Smith got himself into this and he has to figure a way out, without their coddling, and that probably means he will not suit up for the team this season.
This comes after all the steps the franchise took to support him — including Jed York standing with Smith at his locker two days after his DUI — and the hopes they had that Smith’s trip to a treatment center in the middle of last season had put him on the right road.
There were signs that the 49ers were less than sure about all this even a few weeks ago, when York was very circumspect in his answers about Smith’s offseason.
And now after the LAX incident, the 49ers are sternly pointed to that April 29 hearing. No excuses, no spin, just attuned to the legal process.
They will wait to see what the judge and D.A. say about this, and the 49ers understand the judgement could be harsh.
OK, that’s the snapshot now …
Could 49ers management change the tone again and re-embrace Smith at some point? Possibly. He can rush the passer, there isn’t a question about that, which is why he has gotten so many allowances in the past.
If all things are resolved, if Smith stays out of trouble and shows the 49ers proof that he will continue to stay out of trouble and if 49ers management is willing to give him a fourth or fifth chance …
But those are a lot of things that have to happen very quickly, and the 49ers are far, far down the road with him.
It’s not specifically about the incident Sunday at LAX — and one team source suggested that Smith might not end up getting charged for it.
It’s about a pattern of behavior — also about some things that haven’t made headlines but have occurred involving Smith before and after his DUI arrest last year — and about a team that no longer can give him the benefit of the doubt.
Practically, the 49ers have a May 3 deadline to pick up Smith’s $9.75M option for 2015 and I’m told that they are very unlikely to do that.
Smith’s 2015 option would not be guaranteed outright, but it would be guaranteed for injury and the 49ers are not interested in that risk (say, if he stumbles while walking around 49ers H.Q. and hurts his hamstring).
It’s a very minor risk, but it’s still a risk — and Smith’s risk-levels are through the roof already right now.
A look at linebacker Aldon Smith’s legal problems since joining the 49ers in 2011:
January 2012: Suspicion of drunken driving; charge was reduced to reckless driving.
June 2012: Faces three felony counts of possessing illegal assault rifles, which deputies discovered after a party June 2012 party at Smith’s home. Smith sustained stab wounds at the party, and two partygoers were wounded by gunfire from alleged gang members.
September 2013: Suspicion of driving under
the influence after a single-car accident.
Sunday: Arrested at Los Angeles International Airport for making false report of bomb threat.