No defensive end in the NFL has done more in the last three seasons than the San Francisco 49ers Aldon Smith. You can throw out names like Robert Mathis, Robert Quinn Jr. and even DeMarcus Ware, but the numbers are in No. 99′s favor to say the least. Heck, Smith has 42 sacks (not including playoffs) since entering the league in 2011. By comparison, the aforementioned Quinn, who most believe should be the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year only has 34.5 in the same time span.
With that being said: why in the world are the 49ers allowing Smith to enter the last year of his rookie contract? Well, that has everything to do with the defensive end’s behavior away from the football field. Sure, Smith went to rehab and supposedly cleaned himself up, but is San Francisco really willing to throw millions of dollars at a recovering alcoholic with a criminal record? We shall see.
However, if the 49ers don’t have Smith sign on the dotted line this offseason then some other NFL team will. I have no doubt that if Smith were to hit the open market he would become the richest defensive player in NFL history. Let’s see: a 24-year-old who got in trouble on his rookie contract isn’t going to have any problems once he’s making over $14 million a season? I find that hard to believe.
So what should the 49ers do? Well, that all depends on how much general manager Trent Baalke really believes in what’s between Smith’s ears. Because if a contract extension was based solely on play, then Smith would already be locked up.