SANTA CLARA – Coach Jim Tomsula, general manager Trent Baalke and CEO Jed York met Friday morning with star outside linebacker Aldon Smith to inform him of his release from the organization.
Smith on Thursday night experienced his fifth run-in with the law since joining the 49ers as a first-round draft pick in 2011. Smith was arrested for alleged hit and run, DUI and vandalism, according to Santa Clara Police.
[MAIOCCO: 49ers release Aldon Smith]
Tomsula spoke to the media on Friday after the 49ers announced their decision to remove Smith from their roster. Here is a portion of Tomsula’s statement, as well as the Q&A that followed:
“It’s a sad day. This is a day that doesn’t have anything to do about football.
“Although he won’t be playing football for the San Francisco 49ers, he will be supported and helped. And he will not have to walk this path alone. That comes from our ownership down. He will not have to walk this path alone. We’re not worried about football. It has nothing to do with football.
The other thing I’d like to say, I understand the platform we are on. I understand where this goes in the news. What I’d like to say, is if one person out there reads this and you’re struggling, get help. Go get it. You’re worth it. You’re worth it. There’s value in every human being. Get the help. You don’t have to walk alone. Find it. It’s there.
And although Aldon will not be playing football here, we will be supporting him. He will not be alone."
Trent Baalke’s report earlier this week on Aldon was everything seemed to be going very well. Do you share the same thing? Any concern?
“You saw a man fighting and working and trying. And I think to a man in this building – and you’ve been to practice to watch him. The energy about him. Where he’s at. OK? Once again, real life. Everybody has struggles. They’re just in different ways."
Why was the decision made to do this? He came out of the jail and disputed the notion of a DUI. The legal system has not run its course. Why release him?
“As far as the legal system and all that, I have no comment. I will not get involved in that. From our perspective, for him, there are things that need to addressed 100 percent of everything he has. From the team perspective, that’s the football. These are completely different and they don’t mix.”
"I spoke to him this morning and I’d rather not talk about our private conversations."
Was he involved in any in-house program?
“There, I will not go. It’s our policy, it’s my policy, as a man. I won’t go there. All I’ll say on that matter is Aldon Smith has been working really hard to correct things that he needs corrected. And he’s been working really hard to do the right thing."
What is the mood of the team?
"It was unique. It was sadness. That’s what it was. Sadness for a guy, a person. Guys care about him. We care about that guy – deeply."
In the past there’s been talk that it’s better for him to be inside the building with the support system…
"I agree wholeheartedly. I think that was the right move. And I think it did help."
Is there concern without that structure now that he’s not inside the building that it won’t be a positive?
“Again, without getting into particulars, he does not have to walk this road alone. The guy is working really hard, and he had a pitfall."
Has he accepted the overture by the team to help him through this?
"That is ongoing. But I think so, yes."
How much faith do you have in Smith to change his life? Do you think he’ll ever play football again?
“I’ll answer that in two parts. The first part is, he has been turning his life around. He’s in the process of turning his life around. People stumble. Some things are greater risk in things, but he is in that process of turning his life around. He is in that process. In terms of him playing football again, I sure hope so. I think he can. And I want him to."
Was the precedent set with Ray McDonald’s release?
“I understand you have to ask these questions. We do take each individual case. My point on that, I don’t know everybody will understand it, but I can only be honest. We’re dealing with human beings. Living, breathing human beings. They’re not the same. The circumstances they’re under or they come here with, are not the same. The things that are grabbing onto them as they get here are not the same. The things we may read on what went wrong might be the same, but the things leading up to that are not. We don’t treat them the same. We try to be consistent in a very gray area. We try to look at each individual and understand how to help them."