This afternoon, 49ers GM Trent Baalke told reporters, including Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter), that he hopes Aldon Smith is with the team in “2016 and 2017 and 2018.” In the wake of Smith’s airport incident, many have wondered if the 49ers want to stay the course with the talented but troubled defensive force.
Baalke went on to say, “We’re a family. You don’t just open a door and toss people out of it,” tweets Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. However, he stopped short of saying that he’ll pick up Smith’s option for 2015, according to Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group (on Twitter). The GM added that he has no plans to trade running back LaMichael James.
Even though Baalke threw his support behind Smith today, it’s hard to get a read on what the team will do with Smith’s fifth-year option. Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News wrote earlier this month that he got the sense from club officials that Smith would not play for San Francisco in 2014. Meanwhile, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com wrote last week that the 49ers were not expected to trigger the option.
Meanwhile, the 49ers were said to be shopping James in an effort to move up in the draft. For his part, James hasn’t asked for a trade, but he would welcome the opportunity to see more playing time elsewhere. As it stands, James could be behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, and possible Marcus Lattimore on San Francisco’s depth chart.