In a bold move, the San Francisco 49ers have picked up Aldon Smith‘s 2015 option, as announced by the team. (Though, to be fair, it would have been a bold move either way.) The 49ers had until 9 pm PT to pick up his option for $9.754 million in 2015. The Franchise Tag, which the 49ers would have had to consider otherwise, would be significantly higher (~$12 million).
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) May 2, 2014
I agree with Rapaport. Though the 49ers do not want to be seen as supporting, endorsing, or enabling Smith’s behavior, they also want to protect their long-term interests in this character project. The 2015 salary is not guaranteed until March 11, 2015 except for injury, so the risk is extremely low in opting to keep him around for another year. They can always cut ties later.
However, there will likely be plenty of comments coming your way from media members, pundits, fans on Twitter, etc. who will accuse the 49ers of running an organization that cares about nothing but winning football games. This would appear to be completely off-base considering the amount of investment they are willing to put into Aldon Smith to help him turn his life around. Football appears secondary at this point.
This is a good move by the 49ers, and one that was widely expected around the league coming up until now. It also was done in the midst of the Friday afternoon last-second-news-rush-before-the-weekend, meaning that editorial comments will be fewer than otherwise. All-in-all, good move.