The San Francisco 49ers face a tough decision with Aldon Smith. He was arrested Thursday night, and charged with DUI, hit-and-run and vandalism. Smith has denied that there was a DUI, but said he could have handled the situation last night differently. I don't know if we will ever find out the full truth, but for now, things are dicey.
49ers CEO Jed York spoke to NFL Network's Mike Silver earlier this morning. He told Silver the team has not made a decision yet on what to do with Smith. The screenshot above comes from Josina Anderson's Facebook page. The ESPN NFL reporter apparently spoke with a 49ers source about the situation. The source told her:
"He was on a track and he was making good decisions. But I'll say one thing, there shouldn't be a rush to judgment. We need to figure out what happened and not go into a instant panic. There is usually much more to a story. Let's not overreact and say his career with the 49ers is over just yet."
I get not wanting to rush to judgment, but for now this comes across as providing some cover until the team decides what to do. They are entitled to do what they want, but their past decision-making raises some questions. Last December, word got out that Ray McDonald's home was served with a search warrant amidst a rap allegation. This marked the third incident since May in which McDonald was involved in reports of violence against women. It was a confusing situation, and remains so, but the 49ers made a decision fairly quickly to terminate McDonald's contract.
Trent Baalke met with the media following this announcement, and here are the first few things he had to say:
"Well, this is unexpected. Welcome, everybody. I just want to inform everybody that after the recent allegations concerning [DT] Ray McDonald, we as an organization have notified him and his agent that he will be terminated, released immediately, effective immediately. While this organization has a strong belief in due process, and has demonstrated that over time, Ray's demonstrated a pattern of poor decision-making that has led to multiple distractions for this organization and this football team that really can no longer be tolerated. And that's the reason for the decision that we made today. With that being said, I'll open it up to any questions."
Last time there was an investigation, you, everybody in the organization, talked about due process. Why not due process this time?
"Well, like I just said, [CSNBayArea.com reporter] Matt [Maiocco], we certainly believe in due process and we've demonstrated that over time. But when it becomes a pattern of poor decision-making, which it has in this case, it becomes a time when it leaves you with no other decision to be made but the one we made today."
Who makes the decision? Is it you, is it CEO Jed York? Who makes this final call?
"Well, once again, we make decisions collectively here. Ownership was involved, the head football coach was involved and myself. We met briefly. Jed was out of the office, so we met with Jed over the phone. Met with [head coach Jim Harbaugh] coach in my office and is the decision that we came up with."
Was there any sort of investigation by you guys to look into the matter to see if it has merit, the allegations?
"Well, this isn't about this one incident. This is about a pattern once again, [Sacramento Bee writer] Matt [Barrows]. If this was one incident, we would be standing up here talking about due process like we have multiple times in multiple other situations. But this is just a pattern of decision-making that Ray had demonstrated over the period of time that, once again, it's no longer going to be tolerated."
Baalke said the team learned about the December incident at 10:45 or 11 a.m., and informed Ray of the decision at 11:30 a.m. As you can read above, Baalke pointed to a pattern of poor decision-making that led to multiple distractions for the 49ers.
I get that domestic violence and potential alcohol addiction are two separate issues. And I get that Aldon Smith is claiming there was no DUI involved. And I do hope Aldon Smith is not in fact drinking again. But given how they handled McDonald's pattern of poor decision-making, it puts the team in a corner on this.