I remember seeing Aldon Smith for the first time. It was at his introductory press conference and he was meeting the Bay Area media for the first time. Some people didn’t think that Smith was the right pick for the 49ers and so there was a curiosity to what Smith would bring to the team. Smith, with all his physical skills, ended up being a very solid pick by the 49ers. In the very short time in the league, he established himself as one of the best pass rushers in the game.
The 49ers were proud of Smith and the fact that, in a way, proved doubters wrong. They wanted the best for Smith. They wanted Smith to be a great success story.
They held onto Aldon after his first off-field incident. Then the second. Then the third. Even through last year’s ordeal, they kept holding on to him. They could have handled it differently, but the message was clear: the 49ers were not giving up on him. Sure, there was a lot of emotional attachments and some selfishness in it — but the 49ers did not want to lose Smith. It seemed like he was turning the page and getting things right. But it wasn’t to be. Finally after the fifth strike, he was out.