With the deadline for picking up the fifth-year option on first-round picks from 2011 only three days away, the 49ers haven’t decided whether to pick up the option on linebacker Aldon Smith’s contract.
Per a league source, the 49ers continue to discuss and deliberate the issue. At this point, it truly could go either way.
A final decision may be made after a face-to-face meeting with Smith. The goal, if such a meeting occurs, would be to assess whether, in the wake of multiple incidents, Smith now “gets it.” If he doesn’t, the team could be more likely to decide not to pick up the option. If he does, the 49ers would be more willing to choose to pick up the option and to extend Smith’s stay through 2015.
The concern is that picking up the option would possibly suggest to Smith that everything is fine. It will be important for the 49ers to explain to Smith that exercising the option doesn’t mean he’ll be on the team in 2015, since the money will be guaranteed for injury only until next year.
The 49ers seem to genuinely care about the Smith’s long-term health and well-being, which makes the team more willing to risk having to overpay next year (or possibly lose Smith) if not exercising the option prompts him to get his act together. Either way, Smith has shown that he can be dominant, with 42 sacks in 43 career regular-season games.