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The San Francisco 49ers exercised linebacker Aldon Smith’s contract option for 2015 on Friday. They had until midnight on Friday to make a decision on Smith.
Smith’s 2015 option is worth $9.75 million. The option is guaranteed if Smith has an injury this year that would affect the 2015 season. Next March the 49ers could pull the option or trade Smith. Smith would have become a free agent at the end of the 2014 season. If the 49ers put the franchise tag on Smith, then his salary for 2015 would increase to about $12-13 million, according to ESPN.
The 49ers picking up Smith’s option for 2015 may come as a surprise given Smith’s troubles off the field. Last season he missed five games due to having to go to treatment for substance abuse after a DUI arrest in September. In November he pleaded not guilty to felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, which were from a June 2012 party at his home. In April he was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after telling a TSA agent that he had a bomb after he was selected for a secondary screening. Smith could still be suspended by the NFL for his DUI last September.
"Well, that remains to be seen. You prepare for the worst and hope for the best," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. "There are still a lot of things that are going to factor into that decision at the league level and the club level. We're working very diligently in the background trying to make sure the right decisions are made long term, not only for Aldon but for this club."
In a January interview Baalke said that “you don't just open the door and toss people out of it.”
Smith is one of the best pass rushers in the league. In 2012 he had a franchise record 19 and a half sacks. Last year he had eight and a half sacks and 34 tackles in 11 games, according to the Associated Press. He has 42 sacks which is second-most since he entered the league.
The 49ers aren’t expected to exercise its option on quarterback Blaine Gabbert.