SBD/September 23, 2013/Franchises

49ers' Organization Sharply Criticized For Allowing Aldon Smith To Play Following DUI

Smith played Sunday, but says he will be entering a treatment facility
The 49ers and coach Jim Harbaugh "cut ethical and moral corners Sunday to win a football game that they still lost," in allowing LB Aldon Smith to play against the Colts just "days after his DUI arrest -- and apparently right before he enters a treatment center," according to Tim Kawakami of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. If it was "so pressing to get Smith into rehab, why did he play Sunday instead of going right into treatment?" 49ers CEO Jed York after the game said, "We thought it was the best decision for Aldon and for him in the future and for him to make progress and get better." York said that the 49ers "considered merely deactivating Smith and paying him his game check but decided against it." York: "Our opinion was sitting somebody down and paying them to sit down when they're going to seek treatment in the future, that didn't seem like an appropriate punishment." Kawakami writes, "It was not an irrational decision: Just a stark one." The 49ers "wanted to win this game more than they wanted anything else" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/23). Kawakami noted York "stood next" to Smith when he gave a statement following yesterday's game. Kawakami: "I’ll give the 49ers owner credit for that. He knows he’s taking tremendous heat for letting Smith play. ... I think the 49ers are incredibly exposed on this in every way" (, 9/22). In S.F., Scott Ostler writes the 49ers "came off looking like a team that puts winning above doing the right thing for a desperate teammate" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/23).

SENDING A MESSAGE: NBC's Tony Dungy said he would not have played Smith, saying, "Send a message to your team, 'We're not going to have these type of incidents on Friday before a game.' Jim Harbaugh could have sent a stronger message" ("FNIA," NBC, 9/22). THE MMQB's Peter King writes, "There are some things that are just more important than playing a football game." King: "If it sends the wrong message to sit a guy and pay him $230,000, so be it. I just don't think it's right to let him play" (, 9/23). CBSSN’s Brandon Tierney said, “This is a real big fail on the part of the Niners. This is a disgrace that this guy's playing today." He added, "Harbaugh gets paid to win, which is why Trent Baalke and Jed York need to step up and have control of the image of the Niners, which right now has taken a massive hit.” CBSSN’s Bart Scott: “If this is Pittsburgh or New England he doesn't play -- not even a question” (“That Other Pregame Show,” CBSSN, 9/22).
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