"Usually, we are on the injury report, but I'll get to that in a second. I think you're all aware; the San Francisco 49ers released [LB] Aldon Smith today. It's a sad day. This is a day that doesn't have anything to do with football. Although he won't be playing football for the San Francisco 49ers, he will be supported and helped and he will not have to walk this path alone. That comes from our ownership down. He will not have to walk this path alone. We're not worried about football. It has nothing to do with football. The other thing I would like to say is there are people who, I understand the platform that we are on, I understand where this goes in the news. And what I would like to say is, if one person out there reads this, and you're struggling, get help. Go get it. You're worth it. You're worth it. There's value in every human being. Get the help. You don't have to walk alone. Find it, it's there. And although Aldon will not be playing football here, we will be supporting him. He will not be alone. Questions?"
We spoke with general manager Trent Baalke earlier in the week and his report on Aldon was that everything seemed to be going very well. Do you share the same thing and was there, you know, any concern at that point?
"You saw a man fighting and working and trying and I think to a man in this building, and you've been to practice to watch him, the energy about him, the where he's at. Once again, real life. Everybody has struggles. They're just in different ways."
Why was the decision made to do this? He came out of the jail and disputed the notion of the DUI. The legal system hasn't run its course, why release him?
"We, number one, with the legal system and all that, I have no comment, obviously. I will not get involved in that. From our perspective, for him, we need, there are things that needed to be addressed with 100-percent of everything he has. From the team perspective, that's the football. These are completely different and they don't mix."
When did you speak to him and what was his mood when you did?
"I spoke to him this morning and I would rather not talk about private conversations, ma'am, with respect."
Well, I understand, but you did speak with him this morning?
He came into the facility?
"Yes, ma'am. So did the general manager."
Was the decision made at that time to part ways with him?
Was he involved in any sort of in-house program?
"There, I will not go. With this, it's our policy, it's my policy, as a man. So, I won't go there. I will tell you, all I will say on that matter is Aldon Smith has been working really hard to correct things that he needs corrected and he has been working really hard to do the right thing."
Can you talk about the mood of the team today with this news breaking?
"It was unique. It was sadness. That's what it was. Sadness for a guy, a person. Guys care about, we care about that guy deeply."
I know recently, last year there was talk about, or in the past there has been talk that Trent said that it's better to have him around inside the building with the support system, during the suspension as well.
"And that was, I agree wholeheartedly and I think that was the right move and I think it did help."
So, is there concern that without that structure now that he's not inside the building that it won't be a positive?
"Again, [CSN Bay Area writer] Matt [Maiocco], without getting into particulars, and I'm not going to get into particulars, he won't, he does not have to walk this road alone. The guy is working really hard and he had a pitfall."
Has he accepted that overture to, by the team, to help him through this?
"Again, that's ongoing, but I think so, yes."
How much faith do you have in Smith to change his life even though he has said many times that he had turned his life around? Will he ever play football again? Do you think that door is closed or no?
"Well, I'll answer that in two parts. The first part is; he has been turning his life around. He is in the process of turning his life around. People stumble. Some things are a greater risk and things, but, he is in that process of turning his life around, he is in that process. In terms of him playing football again, I sure hope so. I think he can and I want him to."
You know him as well as anyone. I think you were responsible for getting him to this team, right? You drafted him?
"Yeah, well, I mean, we were all a part of it. Obviously, the general manager follows talent."
How much, and also, did what happened with former 49ers DT Ray McDonald and the precedent, was that precedent set? I know each case is individual and I don't mean to imply one or the other, but it's out there.
"Yeah, and I understand that you have to ask those questions. We do take each individual case. My point on that and I don't know that everybody will understand me, but I can only be honest, we are dealing with human beings. Living, breathing human beings, they are not the same. The circumstances that they are under or they come here with are not the same. The things that are grabbing onto them as they get here are not the same. The things we may read on what went wrong may be the same, but the things leading up to that are not. And, we don't treat them the same. We don't have a, we try to be consistent in a very gray area and we try to look at each individual and understand how to help them."
Coach, did you get to talk to the team already this morning?
"No ma'am. Well, we spoke of it. I have a couple of guys I spoke to personally. We have a team meeting every day and we will have that. And that was my request to not have our guys out there right now. They are hurting and you've rescheduled that, haven't you? There will be people available, but we're talking about something bigger than that right now."
You said that you and Trent talked to him, did 49ers CEO Jed York also factor into this decision and ownership?
"Yes sir, organizationally."
Did you have your walk-through?
And, what time is your team meeting scheduled for?
"This afternoon, I don't have my schedule. Is it two? Yeah, it's every day, it's the same one we have every day."
Coach, can you offer an update on the turf at all? Is there any concern the field will be ready for opening day, the new field?
"Yeah, I don't have any concerns about the field being ready for opening day. Again, to address that, we do the same thing every morning. And, it's the field guys and it's the equipment guys. We have our meeting there, trainers come in, we go through everything operationally. And, they, quite frankly, recommended that the field was not ready for us to go back. So, they told us to go back to the practice field, so we just go on that recommendation. That's just the way that happens every morning. You know we have the practice fields, you see us on field one and field two, and then you see us on one end, then we go on the other end, and you see the red zones get worked around, it's just the field rotation. And so, that's what they recommended and that's where we are. And, they handle that every morning."
Message to the fans on this, at all?
"It will be fine. I have no question in my mind that it'll be a great surface when we play our game."
I know you're talking about the person Aldon, at what point does the football side of your operation have to kind of kick in and say, "How do we compensate for losing one of the game's best pass rushers?"
"Well, I mean, we've drafted. We have a group there. I mean, it's an area that, regardless if that area, if we felt that area was loaded or we had a lot of people, a lot of good quality talent in the group, which we do. But, that would not have factored into this decision. Not in this case."
Along those lines, do you, you still have a veteran at that position in LB Ahmad Brooks. Do you move him over to the right side? Do you shuffle that at all or do you keep him on the left?
"Again, you've seen us out there. He's worked both sides. We cross-train all of that in our individual work and then we settle. I haven't even talked about big moves, no. We're going to keep playing football. And, that group of guys there, they are all doing really well right now. And, we feel really good about all the talent in that room."
Aldon came out of jail and disputed that it was a DUI. Did he also dispute that with team officials when you met with him and in your mind did it matter one way or the other what the chargers were?
"I don't even want to discuss anything about that. I don't want to answer that question because I just feel like I'm getting to close to the legal things, sir. Would you guys like the Injury Report? I know that's important to you all."
You guys signed an inside linebacker?
How do you pronounce his name?
"[LB Steve] Beauharnais. [TE Garrett] Celek, we've got an illness there, getting him checked. I can't tell you if he'll be there. We want to see where that goes and he's getting checked. [WR Bruce] Ellington and [WR Issac] Blakeney are still out with the muscles. The guys that we're monitoring the reps, still [WR Aaron] Lynch, still [DT Darnell] Dockett, and again you keep seeing Dockett getting more reps in the nickel packages and things like that. And that'll continue. We just stay on top of that and we'll go. [DB Jimmie] Ward, still limited. Again, you see more and more happening there, so that's coming along great. [RB] Reggie Bush, [LB Philip] Wheeler, he was out, but he'll be back in today. But, we'll monitor him on the way back. [S Jaquiski] Tartt, again, he was out, he's back in today, we will monitor him. And again, when I say monitor, I mean with some of these guys it's just how we're responding. If you're running around out there, and if it's getting, you move wrong or something then we're going to take you out of the drill. That's what I mean by the monitoring there with some of these younger guys. And then [RB] Kendall Hunter, and Kendall is really, he's doing good. So, we're in real good shape there."
DL Arik Armstead is good to practice?
"Yes. He's getting some treatment on his leg and all of that stuff, but he didn't make the news in the training room."