The Aldon Smith saga has earned the San Francisco 49ers’ brass a lot of flack. Writers from many websites, magazines, and other news sources have bashed Jim Harbaugh and company for letting Smith play the weekend after he was arrested for driving under the influence. At 7 am. Yikes. This was quite bad.
I do not believe for an instant, however, that the 49ers erred in doing as they did. As Harbaugh said consistently, every person needs a different response to fix a problem. This obviously was not a one-time deal. One suspension would not fix this. Smith didn’t need to watch a game from the sidelines, ripe for humiliation in front of the TV. This would not be supporting Aldon—it would be embarrassing him. Josh Freeman did not look supported this past week in street clothes. So instead, the 49ers gave Smith one last pat on the back, one last sign of support and togetherness, before he left to go end this problem of his. Alcoholics Anonymous is a support group—not a group of individuals waiting for an excuse to leave you out on a limb. I’d imagine Smith’s treatment facility tries to be supportive as well. Thus, it would have made no sense for the 49ers to try and look principled. That would have been the least moral thing they could have done.