Fooch's update: The 49ers made it official
In a move that is not remotely surprising, the San Francisco 49ers are set to release outside linebacker Aldon Smith, according to multiple reports. Jim Trotter and Matt Barrows both tweeted that the move is expected soon. The former first round pick was arrested Thursday night and charged with DUI, hit and run, and vandalism. This marks his third DUI arrest, and fifth arrest since January 2012. He spent time in rehab in 2013, and then went through a 9-game suspension in 2014, so it is not surprising the team would elect to release Smith.
The 49ers decision to release Smith would result in a dead money hit of $1.6 million. The team restructured Smith's contract earlier this year, turning a guaranteed $9.754 million into a mix of base salary, bonuses and incentives. The $1.6 million figure comes from his $500,000 workout bonus, and five bonuses worth $1.1 million paid on the first day of April, May, June, July and August. Nothing else in his 2015 contract was guaranteed, and so the 49ers clear $3,254,875 in cap space.
The one bit of "good news" is that the 49ers have players that can potentially replace Smith. The team drafted Aaron Lynch a year ago, and Eli Harold this past spring. Lynch had a breakout season as a rookie, but dealt with a hamstring injury this offseason. He is working back into shape from that. Harold has been winning a lot one-on-one battles in training camp pass rush drills. The team also has Corey Lemonier and Marcus Rush. Lemonier had a strong rookie season, but struggled in 2014 as he did not have enough additional weapons in his arsenal. He suggested earlier this year that a mechanical issue was at the root of it, and he thinks he has resolved it. The preseason just got a lot more interesting for him.
And of course, that leaves Aldon Smith to figure out what's next. He faces potential jail time for violating his probation (as well as the underlying charges). Within just the NFL's arena, he likely faces a significant suspension by the league. He was suspended nine games last year for his DUI and gun charges. He is beginning the process of working his way through the court system, but I have to think he is looking at a suspension of a year or more. Hopefully he realizes he is hitting rock bottom and needs to find help.