Linebacker Aldon Smith has been released by the San Francisco 49ers after his latest arrest.
The team announced the move Friday, hours after Smith was let out of jail.
“It’s a sad day,” 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said. “This is a day that doesn’t have anything to do about football.”
Smith was arrested Thursday night, the fifth legal run-in since the team drafted him in 2011, and two days after general manager Trent Baalke said the organization would like to keep him beyond this season.
Santa Clara police arrested Smith, and accused of drunken driving, hit and run and vandalism.
“Although he won’t be playing football for the San Francisco 49ers, he will be supported and helped, and he will not have to walk this path alone,” Tomsula said. “That comes from the ownership down.”
Smith denied he was driving under the influence during a brief interview with a local television station before Tomsula’s news conference.
“Justice will be served, the truth will come out,” Smith told KTVU Fox 2 as he walked out of jail. “There’s no DUI. I’m sorry for the way this whole thing — I want everybody to understand the situation that happened could have been handled differently.”
It’s the fifth legal issue — and fourth arrest — for Smith since San Francisco drafted him seventh overall out of Missouri. San Francisco has had 12 arrests or charges filed involving seven players since January 2012, prompting owner Jed York to promise the team would “win with class.”
Police didn’t release further details, saying they would provide more information later Friday.
“If one person out there reads this and they’re struggling, get help,” Tomsula said “You’re worth it. … Get the help. You don’t have to walk alone. Find it, it’s there.”
Smith, who when at his best is one of the game’s top pass-rushers, is entering a contract year after missing the first nine games of 2014 serving an NFL suspension for violations of the league’s substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies.
Baalke on Tuesday night said the 49ers would like to keep Smith.
“He knows where we stand and my understanding is he would love to be here, and we would certainly love to keep him here,” Baalke said.
In spring 2014, the 49ers exercised their 2015 option for Smith, but Baalke made it clear they would be no-nonsense regarding his off-field issues. Then this past March, Smith restructured his contract into a more incentive-laden, team-friendly deal that gives the 49ers room if he were to get in legal trouble again.
He has a base salary of $1 million then hits roster bonuses each month that could take him to an additional $3,354,875. There’s an additional $500,000 in workout bonuses.
The 25-year-old Smith missed time during the 2013 season to undergo treatment at an inpatient facility following his DUI arrest on Sept. 20, 2013. That November, he pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, stemming from a June 2012 party at his home.
Smith was arrested on April 13, 2014, at Los Angeles International Airport. Police said Smith was randomly selected for a secondary screening and became uncooperative with the process, telling a TSA agent that he had a bomb. No charges were filed.
During Tuesday’s first padded practice, Baalke chatted briefly with Smith and then offered a fist bump.
“Aldon’s like any young player, he’s growing up, he’s maturing. You see that with a lot of these guys,” Baalke said. “Some of them get themselves in a few more situations that you wish they didn’t. If you asked them, I think they’d say the same thing.
Smith emerged as one of the NFL’s top pass rushers in 2012. He had a franchise-record 19 1/2 sacks that year, but failed to record a sack in his final six games including the team’s postseason Super Bowl run.
Smith finished with 8 1/2 sacks and 34 tackles in 11 games in 2013, making eight starts. In his shortened 2014 season, he had two sacks.
AP Writer: Janie McCauley