SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The San Francisco 49ers have exercised their 2015 contract option for linebacker Aldon Smith, making the decision despite the star defender's legal trouble that included an arrest at Los Angeles International Airport just more than two weeks ago.
The team faced a Saturday deadline to decide on Smith's immediate future, and general manager Trent Baalke suggested last week the team would keep the fearsome pass-rusher around. The 49ers will provide Smith with the support he needs to deal with his rash of off-the-field issues.
Yet Baalke has made it clear there must be positive change, and soon.
San Francisco realizes Smith still could face a suspension from the NFL for his DUI last September.
He had 8 1/2 sacks and 34 tackles in 11 games last season, making eight starts.