The San Francisco 49ers have released outside linebacker Aldon Smith, the team announced on Friday. Smith was arrested in Santa Clara late on Aug. 6 for driving under the influence, committing a hit and run and vandalism. This was the third time Smith was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving since being drafted by the 49ers in 2011.
Smith posted bail on Friday and told assembled media that he was not driving under the influence and that "the truth will come out."
"I need to speak, and I want everybody to understand that this wasn't a DUI," Smith said, via Janine De la Vega of KTVU. "The situation that I had could have been handled differently, and I apologize for everybody I did let down, and I apologize for how it all played out. As far as everything is concerned, it'll work out how it's supposed to work out."
The 49ers released a statement along with news of his release saying that they have tried to help him to this point, and will continue to support him.
"This organization has tried very hard to help Aldon fight his issues," the statement reads. "Although he is no longer a member of this team, our support and concern for him will continue."
Following his release, head coach Jim Tomsula met with the media and continually expressed the importance of separating real life issues from the football field.
"From our perspective, for him, there are things that need to be addressed with 100 percent of everything he has," Tomsula said, suggesting that releasing Smith is the best thing for him at this stage. When asked whether or not removing Smith from the support structure of the 49ers locker room could be detrimental to the player, Tomsula said that the team is still supporting him.
"He does not have to walk this road alone," Tomsula said, "The guy is working really hard and he had a pitfall."
To questions on how Smith's decision might compare to other personnel decisions the 49ers have made, Tomsula said they treat every case differently.
"We're dealing with human beings. Living, breathing human beings," Tomsula said, "They're not the same. The circumstances that they're under, that they come here with, are not the same."
Tomsula was emotional throughout the press conference, which is not surprising. Before being named head coach, he was the 49ers' defensive line coach and was considered a favorite among his players. He worked closely with Smith, an outside linebacker who primarily rushed the passer.
"Aldon Smith has been working really hard to correct things that need corrected," Tomsula said, "He had been working really hard to do the right thing."
Tomsula also encouraged those with the same issues as Smith to seek help.
Smith's most notable arrest came in September 2013, when he was in a single-vehicle accident and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. Smith voluntarily entered a rehab facility following that arrest and missed five games while in the facility. Despite this, the league still suspended him for nine games in 2014.
Smith was already on thin ice this offseason, as evidenced by the fact that he restructured his guaranteed $9.754 million salary for 2015, converting it into roster bonuses that would only pay out if he stayed out of trouble off the field. Around the time of his restructure, there were some reports that the 49ers would have released him had he not agreed to the deal.
Still just 25 years old, Smith came into the league with the potential to be one of the most dominant pass rushers ever seen. He looked the part at times, putting up 19.5 sacks in 16 games in 2012, but it was all downhill from there. He put up just 8.5 sacks in 11 games in 2013 and two sacks in seven games in 2014. Smith's 49ers career has come to an end with him playing in 50 games and recording152 tackles, 44 sacks, five forced fumbles and an interception.
Because they restructured Smith's deal The 49ers take just a $1.6 million cap hit for releasing Smith, as reported by Joel Corry of CBS Sports. The team does have other talented players at the position in Ahmad Brooks and second-year player Aaron Lynch, but neither of those two can provide the pass-rushing ability of Smith.
SB Nation presents: This isn't the first major departure for the 49ers this offseason