Aldon Smith receives support, space from 49ers

Aldon Smith receives support, space from 49ers
March 26, 2014, 10:00 am
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I think it’s literally one day at a time and we’re there for him. But we also don’t want to be too in his face and make it more stick than carrot.
Jed York

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- The 49ers are remaining in contact with outside linebacker Aldon Smith this offseason, while also giving him plenty of space.

“A lot of people are working with him, but you don’t want to set up anything that’s uncomfortable and anything that’s beyond what the CBA rules are,” 49ers CEO Jed York said. “You can only do so much. Somebody has to work for himself if they’re going to get through these issues.”

Smith missed five games while on a voluntary leave of absence to enter into treatment for substance abuse following a September DUI arrest. A discovery hearing is scheduled for April 11 as he faces three felony weapons charges and misdemeanor DUI in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

[RELATED: April 11 court date set for Smith]

Both York and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Smith appears to be doing well.

After his return to the 49ers in early-November, Smith worked his way back into a full-time role and recorded 7.5 sacks in his final 11 games, including the playoffs. 

“I thought he did a good job in all those regards, as a player, as a teammate, decisions he was making,” Harbaugh said on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings.

Harbaugh, who said he last spoke with Smith three weeks ago, and general manager Trent Baalke declined to announce this week whether the 49ers would pick up the fifth-year option on Smith’s contract for the 2015 season.

But all indications are the 49ers have already made the decision, which is viewed as nothing more than a matter of procedure. The 49ers could attempt to work out a long-term extension with Smith. The 49ers could control Smith’s rights through 2016 with the fifth-year option and the franchise tag.

The first priority for Smith and the 49ers is to make sure their top pass-rusher gets his life under control off the field.

“We’re going to be very supportive of Aldon and know if he needs anything, we’re here for him,” York said. “We want to make sure he continues to work through this. But I think it’s literally one day at a time and we’re there for him. But we also don’t want to be too in his face and make it more stick than carrot.”

There has been no indication from the NFL what league-imposed discipline he faces. In October, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Smith’s decision to enter treatment will factor into the decision on punishment, which most likely would include a fine of game checks.

“The issue here is not to discipline players. The issue here is to stop the behavior," Goodell said. "And Aldon, to your point, has voluntarily said, ‘I need help.’ We are obviously there to support him, and the 49ers did a great job getting him into a facility to try to get that help. And so we all support that. So, yes, it will be factor, for sure.”

 

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