Yesterday, Aldon Smith was charged on three different accounts for possession of assault weapons. The timing of this couldn't have been worse with the All-Pro linebacker already spending time in rehab away from the 49ers.
Smith has been arrested twice for two different DUIs in January 2012 and September 2013. He was also involved in a car accident during the 2012 season, but wasn't the driver.
Jim Harbaugh said the team is monitoring everything closely and that everyone is accountable for their actions, but it's obvious that Smith will eventually be back with the team. Here are the two biggest reasons he isn't done yet:
1. His production on the field is great without question.
As the seventh overall picks in the 2011 NFL Draft, some scrutinized the pick saying it was a reach. However, it ended up filling a need for a young pass rusher and it panned out well. Smith was a pass rushing specialist and had 14 sacks as a player coming off the bench. He also had two forced fumbles and was a force on obvious passing downs.
In 2012, he was able to build upon his successful rookie year and became the full-time OLB on the opposite side of Ahmad Brooks. He became the youngest player to get to 30 total sacks in the middle of the season, being two years younger than legend Reggie White. His 19.5 sacks was also a franchise single-season record, surpassing Fred Dean's total of 17.5 sacks. Smith had a remarkable performance against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night football when he recorded four sacks in one game.
Even though there have been off the field headlines, Harbaugh and the 49ers coaching staff have faith in him to turn things around.
2. Aldon Smith has entered rehab and is making an effort to work on his problems.
While the 49ers played Smith against the Indianapolis Colts two days after his DUI, his locker was cleaned out and made the following statement in response to his troubles:
"I want to apologize to the team, organization, my family and everyone I let down. It’s something I will get fixed. I’ll do everything in my power to make sure this never happens again."
Things won't turn around overnight, but he is taking his time off football with a mutual agreement between the team and himself while in rehab. The assault weapon charges stemming from the house party incident in 2012 just extends from an unfortunate situation. He will be given another chance if he doesn't add on to his mistakes from the DUI three weeks ago.
The league will most likely suspend him and he could be facing jail time for the possession of assault weapons which will finish his 2013 season, but he isn't done in the long term. If his jail time becomes the maximum length of four years, it's reasonable to think his time with the 49ers is done. However, if he is sentenced to one year or less, the 49ers will not leave him.
Harbaugh has high confidence in Smith to change his ways and should have an opportunity for redemption in the future. Teammate Vernon Davis also has faith in a turn around for Smith. He remembered when he was younger and it took time for learn from his mistakes.
"In terms of staying out of trouble, he's a young guy," Davis said in an interview. "You go through a phase in your life. Things that you go through can help you be a better man. I'm sure he'll come around and hopefully he'll learn from this situation he got himself into."