It may have come as small consolation for Aldon Smith, but according to Cam Inman of The San Jose Mercury News, 49ers GM Trent Baalke reportedly spent hours with the troubled linebacker after he was released from the club to offer counsel, comfort, and assistance. As Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com writes, the decision to release Smith was made not long after his arrest, and prior to any meeting between the player and front office. However, even though the 49ers may have parted ways with Smith the player, they remain invested in Smith the person.
While head coach Jim Tomsula was addressing the media at a press conference to discuss Smith’s release, Baalke was having a conversation with Smith elsewhere (it is unclear whether that conversation took place at the team’s facility or at Smith’s nearby apartment). According to Baalke, there was nothing Smith could have said that would have changed the team’s decision, but Baalke wanted to offer his support moving forward. As Baalke said:
“What we fail to realize a lot of times in this business is the human side of it. There are a lot of emotions, not only with the player, but with everyone in the organization. He was very well-liked. Obviously, we placed a lot of time and energy into helping him and we’ll continue to do that. He’s not going to walk this thing alone. This isn’t about football. Everybody wants to make this about football. It has nothing to do with football right now. It has everything to do with a human being and a quality, quality person. Everyone who’s met him understands that. But he’s made some mistakes.”
Smith, of course, was cut after his arrest several days ago, his fifth brush with the law since the 49ers made him the 7th overall pick in the 2011 draft. Although this latest off-field incident proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, Baalke said that the team plans to give Smith as much help as he is willing to accept, and as much as the team can give under the terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Baalke added that it is too soon to say whether the 49ers would be interested in bringing Smith back into the fold in the future. At this point, Smith is free to sign with any team, and although it may take a little time for another club to pull the trigger, his age (25) and track record as a pass rusher with elite ability will surely land him another chance to continue his still-promising career.