OAKLAND –- Former 49ers edge rusher Aldon Smith didn’t speak with the press after signing with the Raiders on Friday, but spent five solid minutes with the media playing in Sunday’s 33-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at O.co Coliseum.
There was plenty to discuss.
Smith played a handful of snaps just three days after joining the Silver and Black, with only a walk-thru practice under his belt. Football was a topic of conversation. So were the misdemeanor charges against him from Aug. 6 incident that prompted his release from the 49ers. He was even keel, touching most bases.
Smith was in good spirits despite the controversy circling around his latest run-in with the law, his departure from Santa Clara, him signing with the Raiders and a possible suspension levied by the NFL.
That’s a lot to handle, but Smith certainly didn’t sound like a player burdened by stress.
“I’m doing really good,” Smith said. “I’m just excited to be here, have this chance with this team, being part of a bunch of guys who work hard and an organization who looks out for their players, and just a fresh start.”
Smith had other offers before him, but took less money to stay in the Bay Area where he’s comfortable. That led to him signing an incentive-laden one-year contract worth up to $8 million, with the majority of potential income tied up in per-game roster bonuses.
“I had different offers, some more and some less, some the same,” Smith said. “I’ve got a house here. I’ve got a son here. This is my home. I love the Bay Area, the people … and I didn’t want to go.
“…I’ve been doing a good job taking care of myself. I’ve got a really good support system around me of people who care about me and people I can talk to. I’m fortunate to have the friends and the people around me that I do have.”
Smith didn’t talk about the 49ers specifically, but said he was disappointed by his released on Aug. 7 by the team that drafted him.
“I’m human. If you lost your job, how would you feel?,” Smith said. “Everything happens for a reason, you know? That’s how I look at it. I don’t point the finger at anybody. I don’t think too much about it. I just move on and move forward.”
His past could catch up to his yet. Smith must face misdemeanor charges of DUI, hit-and-run and vandalism from the Santa Clara County district attorney, with an arraignment scheduled for Oct. 6. The matter is also under NFL review. The league could suspend Smith for a second time -– he was suspended nine games last year –- for his latest troubles.
Pro Football Talk reported Sunday evening that Smith’s case will be analyzed through the NFL substance abuse policy.
Smith views those issues with a similar mindset to his adjustment to the Raiders.
“I’m taking all that day by day,” Smith said. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m going to learn from what happened today and see what I can do better, look at the film, see what we can do better. (Generally speaking) that’s how I’m looking at my days.”
Smith was happy to focus on football on this Sunday. He played a moderate number of snaps as a pass rusher focused solely on pressuring the quarterback, with two tackles and hit quarterback Andy Dalton once on a third-down play. The Raiders pass rush was lackluster at best, and Smith wasn’t in the solid rhythm he expects to find in time.
Smith believes he’ll improve in time and reward the Raiders and head coach Jack Del Rio for keeping him close to home.
“I’m grateful for Jack bringing me here and I’m excited to work with (defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.),” Smith said. “I think it’s my third day with the team, so I’m just taking it day by day and seeing how it goes.”