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San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith (99) takes the ball on the first play of the game by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during the NFC championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash. on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Smith recovered the ball.


What will happen to the 49ers' Aldon Smith?

Leading Off: 49ers had no choice with Aldon Smith

Published: Sunday, May. 4, 2014 - 10:21 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, May. 21, 2014 - 8:17 pm

Not sure about your office, but here at 21st and Q in midtown Sacramento, the human resources department frowns when employees are charged with driving-while-intoxicated offenses and felony gun possession, not to mention making a bomb threat while being questioned at Los Angeles International Airport.

If we’re lucky, we get to keep our jobs. We certainly don’t get fat raises.

But at 4949 Centennial Dr. in Santa Clara, they don’t kick people out the door for bad behavior – certainly not when that person has 42 sacks in 43 career games.

Instead of showing their young, troubled star tough love following his off-field indiscretions, the 49ers last Friday picked up the team option on Smith’s 2015 contract worth $9.75 million. Does he deserve such a contract? Absolutely not.

But what choice did the 49ers have? By picking up the option, they control Smith’s future. They can withdraw the contract before 2015 if there is another incident, or they can try to trade him – maybe during this week’s draft.

If they hadn’t picked up the option, the 49ers would have risked Smith leaving as a free agent in 2015 and becoming a law-abiding citizen and record-breaking sack artist with another team.

The 49ers, for now, are banking that Smith does the right thing for the team that didn’t kick him out the door.

Picking up Smith’s contract is not a reward. It’s a last chance.

– Victor Contreras

Today’s poll

What will happen to the 49ers’ Aldon Smith?

• Become citizen 49ers want him to be.

• Traded before 2015.

• Released after another incident.

Vote above, or go to

Weekend poll results

Who will be the first quarterback taken in this week’s NFL draft?

• Blake Bortles, Central Florida: 19%

• Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville: 18%

• Derek Carr, Fresno State: 12%

• Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M: 43%

• Other: 8%

Total votes: 108

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Read more articles by Victor Contreras


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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Note: The 49ers blog switched blog platforms in May 2014. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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