The San Francisco 49ers had two defensive players arrested in less than two weeks because of an outstanding warrant and a DUI. On January 28, Aldon Smith was arrested in Miami Beach for failing a field sobriety test and was charged with a DUI. The police report stated Smith was seen swerving while driving behind the deal. Smith spent a 3 ½ hours in jail before posting $1,000 bond and was released. On Wednesday morning Ray McDonald was pulled over for a traffic violation when police learned he had an outstanding warrant and brought him into custody. McDonald had an warrant out for his arrest in San Mateo County (just south of San Francisco) because of his arrest on June 12, 2010 for suspicion of driving under the influence.
Anytime a player is arrested, DUI or not, it’s serious for the player and team. What was surprising about Smith’s arrest is he was championed as having a great character which is one of the reasons why GM Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh selected him so high in the draft. The DUI arrest does not automatically make Smith a bad guy, but you have to question his thought process when he thinks it is okay to drive after a night of drinking. Anytime I hear of a player, from any sport, arrested for a DUI I think to myself, ‘they couldn’t afford a taxi or car service to drive them home?’ The thought probably never enters their mind, let alone any other reasonable thinking.
With the NFL cracking down on players misconduct, whether or not they are convicted, we can expect Roger Goodell to either hand out fines or a possible suspension. This might be the case especially for Smith, who just came off a stellar rookie year with 14 sacks that tied a rookie sack record in the NFL. Goodell likes to make examples out of players doing bad deeds and show this will be the consequences should players in the future think about driving behind the wheel while under the influence. And what better way than making an example out of a first-year player coming off a great season. It’s unfortunate one players mistake can hurt the whole team.
McDonald has been with the 49ers for the past five seasons and he started all but one game in 2011. The D-lineman played a huge role in the NFC Championship game recording 2 ½ sacks. McDonald signed a five-year, $20 million contract after the lockout ended.
With every game counting in the NFL, losing one or both players for even just one game because of a suspension could hurt the team later in the season, in the division race and seeding in the playoffs. What is not well known to 49ers fans is coach Harbaugh had a DUI arrest of his own in 2005 when he was head coach at University of San Diego. Harbaugh should have some good advice for Smith and McDonald on how to move forward from the incident and to make sure it does not happen again.