Smith was booked into the Santa Clara County jail and released Friday on $26,000 bond. It was his third arrest on suspicion of drunken driving since entering the league in 2011 as a first-round draft pick out of Missouri.
A team source tells ESPN’s Jim Trotter that 49ers general manager Trent Baalke met with Smith after he was released from jail Friday morning, and after Smith refused to take responsibility for his latest arrest, the team decided to release him.
The 49ers spoke earlier this week about wanting to keep Aldon Smith. His NFL future, however, took a drastic turn Friday. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
“This organization has tried very hard to help Aldon fight his issues. Although he is no longer a member of this team, our support and concern for him will continue,” the team said in a statement.
49ers coach Jim Tomsula canceled the team’s morning practice Friday, saying his players were hurting. Tomsula was emotional himself in talking about Smith’s situation.
“It’s a sad day,” the first-year 49ers coach said at a news conference. “We’re not worried about football. This has nothing to do with football. … If one person out there reads this and you’re struggling, get help. Go get it. You’re worth it. We value every human being. Get the help. You don’t have to walk alone. Find it. It’s there.
“Although Aldon will not be playing football here, he will be supported. He will not be alone,” Tomsula said. “We saw a man fighting, working and trying.
Once again, real life, everyone has struggles. They’re just in different ways. … From our perspective, from him, we need the things that need to be addressed with 100 percent of everything he has.”
Because Smith has accrued four seasons in the NFL — meaning he played in at least six games in each of those four seasons — he immediately becomes a free agent. It’s not expected, however, that he’ll be immediately picked up by another team.
Smith was arrested on suspicion of DUI in January 2012, a charge that was later reduced to reckless driving. Later that year, he faced three felony weapons charges stemming from a June 2012 party at his home. Police said several shots were fired, two partygoers were injured and Smith was stabbed. Smith pleaded not guilty, and the weapons charges were later reduced.
Smith was arrested and charged with DUI again after a car accident in September 2013. He voluntarily entered rehab and missed five games that season. In July 2014, Smith was sentenced to 11 days of work release for that DUI in Santa Clara.
In August 2014, Smith was suspended for the first nine games of last season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies, in connection to the 2013 drunken-driving arrest.
Smith also was arrested April 13, 2014, at Los Angeles International Airport. Police said he was randomly selected for a secondary screening and became uncooperative, telling a TSA agent he had a bomb. No charges were filed in that incident.
On Tuesday, Baalke talked about re-signing Smith, who was in his contract season with San Francisco.
“Aldon’s like any young player,” Baalke said. “He’s growing up, he’s maturing. You see that with a lot of these guys. Some of them get themselves in a few more situations that you wish they didn’t … [but I’m] really pleased with the way he’s handled things, the way he’s working both personally and professionally. I think he’s doing an outstanding job. He’s always been a great teammate. He’s always had an excellent work ethic. Those are things he’s even stepped up.”