SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers released outside linebacker Aldon Smith Friday after Smith was arrested Thursday night on suspicion of DUI, hit and run and vandalism.
"This is a sad day, a day that does not have anything to do with football,” an emotional coach Jim Tomsula said while insisting the 49ers want to help Smith despite cutting him. “Although he won’t be playing football for the San Francisco 49ers, he will not have to walk this path alone. He will be supported. He will not be alone.”
Police said that when Smith, 25, was trying to park his car at 8:46 p.m. in a condominium complex where he lives in Santa Clara, he struck another vehicle and left the scene. He also allegedly caused more damage to the parked car with his own car door.
According to police, when Smith returned he “displayed objective symptoms of being under the influence of an alcoholic beverage” and was arrested for DUI, hit and run and vandalism. He provided an alcohol screening sample, but the results of that test have not been released. Smith, meanwhile, insisted as he was leaving the Santa Clara County main jail Friday morning that it was not a case of DUI and that the “truth will come out.”
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It’s Smith’s fourth arrest -- and the third DUI arrest -- since January 2012. He also was charged with weapons possession stemming from an out-of-control party in 2012. He pleaded no contest to those charges and was suspended nine games this past season.
The hope among the 49ers is that he will let them help him through his issues, many of which appear to alcohol-related. Smith spent six weeks in an alcohol treatment facility in 2013 after a September 2013 DUI arrest.
Earlier this week, general manager Trent Baalke said the 49ers were interested in signing Smith, who only had this season left on his contract, to an extension. He said that Smith was doing everything right and that on the field he looked as sharp as ever.
Tomsula echoed those thoughts Friday.
“He has been turning his life around,” he said. “He is in the process of turning his life around. People stumble.”
Tomsula said he and Baalke spoke to Smith this morning at which point the decision to part ways was made. He said he had a meeting with players about the situation in which “sadness” was the prevailing emotion. Players, normally available for interviews around noon, will speak after this afternoon’s practice.
“We’re talking about something bigger right now,” Tomsula said.
Smith was suspended nine games last season in relation to the 2013 DUI and gun charges. He likely will face even stiffer discipline after the latest incident.