No. 1: Edge Rusher Aldon Smith
Now, edge rusher Aldon Smith left the 49ers quite unceremoniously. It was a combination of substance-abuse issues and run-ins with the law that forced the 49ers to cut Smith prior to the 2015 season. But despite all of the off-the-field issues he had, it’s hard to forget the force he once was on the field.
San Francisco 49ers
The seventh overall pick of the 49ers in the 2011 NFL Draft, Smith went to work immediately chasing the rookie sack record. That rookie record was 14.5 sacks set by Jevon Kearse in 1999. Smith recorded 14 sacks in 2011, falling just a half-sack short.
In 2012 Smith had his sights set on larger goals. In his sophomore season, he recorded 19.5 sacks, just three sacks shy of the single-season record. Although he didn’t break the record, his efforts made him the fastest player to reach 30 sacks.
According to a report by Jim Trotter of NFL Media, Smith is attempting to return to the NFL and is “in the process of applying for reinstatement.” How long that will take for him to clear all the hurdles is unclear. And who knows what other punishments may be passed down from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
A few months back during Super Bowl festivities, TMZ Sports caught up with Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer who vouched for Smith, saying he was, in fact, clean and sober. Smith had been training at Glazer’s gym in West Hollywood and apparently was in great shape as well, according to Glazer.
If Smith were to be reinstated and become a free agent, a reunion with the 49ers likely would not come without stipulations. Although general manager John Lynch was not around during Smith’s tenure with the 49ers, CEO Jed York was, and he most certainly remembers all the issues.
A contract for Smith would likely have a zero-tolerance policy for substance abuse or any legal trouble stemming from that. Meaning that he’d have to demonstrate he was clean and sober to remain under contract.
But if Smith can remain sober and even get back to three-fourths of what he was from 2011 to 2013, he would be an asset for the 49ers. A pass-rusher who could add depth to an already productive group would be a welcomed sight.
Not to mention jersey No. 99 is all of a sudden vacant again.