This is a couple days late, but we have a minor update on Aldon Smith's on-going court case. The 49ers outside linebacker faces three felony weapons charges and a misdemeanor for DUI, and his defense team was in court March 13. I say defense team, because Smith has not made personal appearances in recent court appearances. This is not much of a development as he is not the first person to not go to court for preliminary hearings.
I'm not entirely sure what the March 13 hearing was for, but his next hearing is April 11. That is being described as a discovery hearing. The cases were combined together on January 15, and the process is moving along to gathering any additional relevant information for the cases. There has been no word of any sort of plea deal to date, but it would not be surprising to see that eventually come to fruition.
The San Francisco 49ers have a couple things to figure out with regard to Aldon Smith. The first is his fifth year option. The team has until May 3 to decide whether to exercise that option for the 2015 season. Just a reminder that the option is at the transition tender for the position, which in this case is $9.754 million.
The case is of note during their consideration, but the guarantees make it less of an issue for the technical purposes of exercising the option. When the 49ers exercise the option, it immediately becomes guaranteed for injury. It becomes fully guaranteed at the start of next year's league year (mid-March). That means if the 49ers exercise it now, and Aldon ends up going to trial and losing between now and next March, they would not be on the hook for it.
The other issue is any potential league discipline. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league will take Aldon's rehab stint into consideration as they determine discipline. That will likely not come until after the court case is resolved. At this point, it's hard to tell when that might happen. I don't expect a suspension for this issue, but all options remain on the table until there's a resolution.
Trent Baalke has discussed the support system in place for Aldon Smith, as the team has spent the last six months since his DUI working with him to get his life on track. Bay Area Sports Guy had an interesting article earlier this year based on his observations of Aldon in the locker room. Obviously he doesn't know what's going on in Aldon's head, but it's still an optimistic look at Aldon's return to the team. Ideally he has figured out what he needs to do to keep his life on track. This is a very personal issue, but given the public nature of the NFL, and Smith's likely hope for a new contract, it will remain a part of the public discourse.