5 Players the 49ers Should Still Target in Free Agency
By Jerod Brown
Aldon Smith-Outside Linebacker
Aldon Smith is a polarizing figure among 49ers fans. He had a rapid rise to success and looked poised to be one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL just a few seasons ago.
Many fans remember quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s first game on Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears. Kaepernick played well and was overshadowed by Smith’s 5 1/2 sacks. The man looked unstoppable on national television.
Smith was suspended for a year in mid-November and will need to spend his time away from football wisely. Before we get to what Smith does as a football player, it is important to mention that the man needs to address his substance-abuse issues. He may have already taken the necessary steps to sobriety but teams will be cautious in their pursuit of him. While Smith doesn’t have quite the notoriety that Johnny Manziel does, his actions throughout his career have been concerning.
As a player, Smith may still have a chance to become the dominant edge rusher that 49ers fans assumed he would be in his brief career with the team. In 2012, he amassed 19.5 sacks and was one of the premiere defenders in the league. As we’ve recently seen with Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller, pressure on the quarterback can be disastrous for even the best offenses.
When Smith left the 49ers, although unfortunate, he left with the support of the front office and coaching staff to address the problems in his personal life. Aside from the substance abuse, there have been rumors of a feud between Smith and quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The situation with Kaepernick is unsettled but Smith may be open to returning to the 49ers if the team manages to trade the quarterback.
As far as a contract goes, one would have to guess that any team is going to make Smith’s contract highly-incentivized. The immediate value will probably look like the veteran minimum but will be laden with clauses that reward Smith for good play and good behavior.
It’s well-documented how much general manager Trent Baalke adores Smith and he may be willing to give him one more shot to make amends with the team and fanbase. If Smith is willing to put in work during his time off, he might be one of the best bargain free agents still available.
Next: Veteran Cornerback