Speaking to a local radio station in the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke indicated that the team will look into claims that troubled linebacker Aldon Smith was drinking with former 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald prior to the latter being investigated on sexual assault charges.
There are so many levels to this story.
San Francisco, who stood by Ray McDonald during his first run-in with the law, which included an investigation on domestic violence charges, released the veteran defender last week after it was announced that he was the subject of a rape investigation.
San Francisco drew a ton of criticism for its initial support of McDonald before releasing him after the team was eliminated from playoff contention and following the reported investigation on sexual assault claims.
As it relates to Smith, San Francisco also stood by him. His off-field rap sheet includes possession of illegal firearms and driving under the influence of alcohol. Following his no-contest plea that allowed Smith to avoid jail time this past summer, the National Football League suspended him for the first nine games of the season under the personal conduct policy.
Immediately after his DUI arrest last year, San Francisco and Smith made the decision for him to enter alcohol rehabilitation. This forced the former Pro Bowler out of action for five games.
Smith was also involved in an incident at Los Angeles International Airport earlier in the year in which it was claimed that he filed a false bomb threat.
As San Francisco concludes what has been a disastrous season both on the field and off the field, this latest report suggesting Smith was drinking with the exiled former 49ers defensive tackle has to be worrisome to the organization. An organization that backed him throughout his issues with substance abuse
The feeling around Santa Clara during the summer was that Smith had righted the ship as it relates to his substance abuse issue. If that’s no longer the case, San Francisco might want to seriously consider moving on from the embattled but talented pass-rush threat.
This is only magnified by the fact that Smith is currently on probation stemming from his DUI last year.
Baalke’s comments on Monday lends some credence to that idea.
Of course, these are all just allegations. There’s still something to be said about due process, even though San Francisco bypassed that regarding McDonald last week.
Photo: USA Today