Coach Jim Harbaugh was in a charitable mood Thursday, ending his team’s final practice of the spring 35 minutes early and then handing out 59 certificates and T-shirts to the players who achieved perfect attendance during the 49ers’ offseason program.
His parting message to his players, however, was a serious one.
“‘Beware with whom you associate,’ ” Harbaugh later told reporters. “ ‘Very important to know your surroundings. Friend or foe? And there always seems to be a foe present, so get in a good football position and be ready for anything that’s coming at you. And be able to see around corners and see under doors, anticipate. Mainly, surround yourself with good people.’ ”
The 49ers have had a number of players involved in police-blotter incidents in recent seasons, including during the month-long break between minicamp and training camp, which begins July 23 for veterans.
Two years ago, Aldon Smith was stabbed at a house party east of San Jose that grew out of control and included a shootout. A 28-year-old San Jose man this week pleaded no contest to stabbing Smith twice in the chest and faces three years in prison.
After authorities arrived at the house, which Smith was renting, they found three semi-automatic rifles in Smith’s bedroom. He faces a July 25 sentencing hearing based on gun charges relating to the weapons, as well as a September DUI arrest.
The NFL is expected to discipline Smith after the sentencing hearing, and he could be suspended for several games to start the season.
Harbaugh would not say if he had a contingency plan regarding Smith, who participated in the team’s offseason practices and dominated at times.
“That’s to be determined,” Harbaugh said. “Right now ... as you can see, he’s out here practicing, part of the team.”
Last year, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office investigated an incident in which Ahmad Brooks, the 49ers’ other starting outside linebacker, was accused of hitting a teammate over the head with a beer bottle. The investigation turned up enough mitigating evidence that the District Attorney’s Office felt it couldn’t get a conviction, and Brooks wasn’t charged.
Other incidents can be attributed to players keeping dubious company.
Earlier this month, investigators in Miami concluded that no crime had occurred after a woman went to police in April claiming she had mysteriously blacked out and didn’t know if she had been sexually assaulted in quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s hotel suite.
Kaepernick quickly left the suite after the woman began acting strangely, and the two men left behind, wide receivers Quinton Patton and Ricardo Lockette, called police and hotel security to have the woman removed. The woman knew Kaepernick and Lockette from Atlanta, where they trained in 2013.
Asked if he was now more cautious about the company he keeps, Kaepernick said, “A lot more.”
“Since I’ve really started playing, it’s something I’ve been more aware of, and especially in the past few months, it’s something obviously you have to be very aware of,” he said.