San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was stabbed in the back early Saturday morning at his house in San Jose where he was throwing a party. The injuries Smith suffered were reported as “minor injuries”. At 2:14 a.m. on Saturday, a 911 call was placed reporting three victims with non-life-threatening injuries. When police arrived they found two gunshot victims and one stabbing victim, which was Smith. The second-year linebacker was admitted to the emergency room at Regional Medical Center in San Jose and was released at 5 a.m. Here is an official statement from the 49ers:
The San Francisco 49ers are aware that Aldon Smith incurred minor injuries during an incident last night. We are in contact with Aldon, and thankful that his injuries were not more serious and that he is recovering comfortably. The 49ers are also in communication with local authorities as they gather information regarding the incident, and will reserve further comment at this time.
Compared to other NFL teams, the 49ers have had a mostly quiet and drama free offseason. There is one, serious, exception which also involved Smith: his DUI arrest in Miami Beach on January 28. Smith recently said he was not officially charged and he has moved on from the issue. Still, that does not mean Smith did nothing wrong because he was not charged. One of the reasons Smith was selected with the seventh pick of the 2011 draft by the 49ers was his character in addition to what he could do on the field. Harbaugh said of Smith after the draft,
We had him here on a visit. I’m really impressed with him as a person. He’s an All-American young man. Has great wiring, many blessings from mom, dad and God, and we just feel like he’s going to be someone who’s obviously going to add to our football team and make us a better football team.
To be fair, Smith was a victim in the incident as the linebacker suffered the stab wounds trying to break up a fight. But he did not do himself any favors by hosting a large house party with what has been reported as having over 100 people at the time of the altercation. I doubt Smith knew everyone in attendance at his house which can be a recipe for a disaster. In addition, he was only five months removed from being arrested with a DUI, so you would think he would not put himself in positions like he did on Saturday by hosting a big party at his house.
Smith is only 22 years old. When you get the money and fame that comes with being an NFL rookie, what your character was in the past can be spoiled by those you choose to surround yourself with who might not have have your best interests at heart.
The 49ers are looking to steamroll into the 2012 season and Smith will be a big part of the defense as he takes on a bigger role at linebacker than just a pass rushing specialists. All it takes is one player to ruin the momentum the 49ers want to carry into training camp and the preseason to get ready for the 2012 season. Whether Smith likes it or not, he can expected plenty questions from the media about his two offseason incidents and how it will affect him and the team. The best thing for him would be to address the recent bad event when he has fully recovered to quash the questions we will have to face at some time in the coming weeks. What the 49ers do not want at the start of training camp is the media to focus on Smith and what he has to say about the stabbing. It will be easier for Smith to focus on getting better in his expanded role at linebacker if he does not have to dodge the questions all through training camp.
The other issue is how will Smith be disciplined. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could suspend or fine Smith for both or one of the offseason incidents. With Smith’s stabbing and the DUI arrest in January, coach Jim Harbaugh will have to, for the first time in the NFL, put on his disciplinary hat and straighten the linebacker out. With Harbaugh’s passion and being a player’s coach, Smith will buy into what the coach has to say and how he needs to conduct himself off the field. Harbaugh always stresses team unity and will tell Smith all it takes is one player to distract a team and ruin the upcoming season. Smith will certainly listen, but let’s hope he sets himself straight.