The San Francisco 49ers are facing a number of hurdles in trying to get their Pro Bowl linebacker Aldon Smith onto the field in 2014. Smith, who was recently arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for a false bomb threat, is likely to receive some kind of suspension for that by the NFL at the start of the 2014 season. Additionally, Smith, 24, has three felony charges hanging over his head related to a felony gun charge including a DUI from 2013.
The 6’4 265lb Smith will be going to trial for those charges in 10 days on April 29th, and it’s quite possible that he’ll be given some kind of jail time given the combination of them. Smith reportedly was told by the judge recently to stay out of trouble, but with the false bomb threat that recently took place earlier this month it won’t help matters.
“It’s possible Aldon Smith isn’t on the field because he may be in jail,” said NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The Niners don’t plan on cutting Smith, as he’s too good a player and his problems aren’t big enough for them to abandon him at this point. What the Niners are doing considering, though, is whether to pick up the 5th year option for Smith in 2015. If not, then after the 2014 season he’ll become a free agent and the Niners will lose him.
The 49ers could use one of their 2nd round picks to trade up in the 1st round to pick up UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, as he’s expected to go high in the 1st round of the 2014 draft. The 6’4 248lbs Barr is an excellent pass rusher with very good speed. However, he’s not considered to be in the same class as Smith and he’s a lighter player at 248lbs compared to the 265lb Smith. The Niners could use Barr as a starter during the time that Smith is under suspension and/or in jail in 2014, but they won’t be getting the same kind of talent.
Smith had 19.5 sacks in 2012, and 14 in his rookie season. However, his sack totals dropped off in 2013 to 8.5 due to him playing in only 11 games.