San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith is in the news again for all the wrong reasons. It's being even more magnified because of Smith's past transgressions. After being arrested Sunday for allegedly yelling "bomb" in an airport, Smith is now putting the 49ers in a tough position on how to handle him.
They opted to let him leave the team temporarily last year, as he missed five games while being treated for substance abuse. He is also facing felony gun charges and a charge from a DUI arrest, his second season entering the NFL. His next court date is set for April 29.
This time , the 49ers may let Smith leave for a much longer period of time. According to Tim Kawakami - a Mercury News sports columnist - the 49ers may consider sitting Smith for the entire 2014 NFL season.
My own view, after talking to several sources: Aldon Smith hasn't only lost the benefit of the doubt, he probably won't play for them in '14. That doesn't mean the 49ers will release him--remember, he almost certainly will face NFL punishment, and it probably won't be lenient.
There is a weariness and frustration over Smith's behavior that I've never heard involving any recent 49ers player. Until this week. And this is coming from people with the team who defended Smith full-tilt after his DUI arrest. Very, very different tone now.
Could 49ers management change the tone again and re-embrace Smith at some point? Possibly. But they are far, far down the road with him.
We're probably a long ways away from a decision like this being made. There's nearly five months until the start of the '14 season, but this does speak to how frustrated the 49ers are with Smith.
At the end of the day, it's looking very likely that Smith will at least miss several games this year, and possibly more.