Skip to content

Before the 2011 draft, 49ers saw Aldon Smith as a high-character guy

Aldon Smith, Jim Harbaugh AP

All the talk about players with checkered pasts and character red flags heading into the draft ignores something important: Players who turn out to be off-field troublemakers in the NFL aren’t always the players who were viewed as character concerns heading into the draft.

One of the best examples of that is in San Francisco, where Aldon Smith’s repeated off-field troubles have led to questions about whether he has any future with the 49ers at all. And yet when the 49ers took Smith with the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, they viewed his character as a positive attribute, not a concern.

“I’m really impressed with him as a person, he’s an all-American young man,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said the day Smith was drafted, as noted by the San Francisco Chronicle. “Just great wiring, many blessings from Mom, Dad and God.”

The flip side is that when the 49ers drafted NaVorro Bowman in 2010, one of the reasons he was still available in the third round is that he had been in off-field trouble in college at Penn State. Shortly after the 2010 draft, one report card for the 49ers noted that Bowman was “a big risk due to his character concerns.” Bowman has developed not only into one of the best linebackers in the NFL, but also into a team leader.

So the reality is that just as no one knows for sure how well a mobile quarterback will develop into a pocket passer, or how a small-school prospect will match up against NFL competition, no one knows for sure which players who are drafted this week will turn out to have off-field problems when they get to the NFL.

Permalink 57 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Rumor Mill, San Francisco 49ers, Top Stories
57 Responses to “Before the 2011 draft, 49ers saw Aldon Smith as a high-character guy”
  1. elwaysagenius says: May 4, 2014 3:48 PM

    They saw him wrong, apparently.

  2. battlelyon1976 says: May 4, 2014 3:51 PM

    After this report and these last two off seasons, 49ers seemed to be more lucky in selecting players, than their ability to judge players.

  3. bennyb82 says: May 4, 2014 3:51 PM

    He is still probably a high character individual. He just seems to have a drinking and/or substance abuse problem and that leads to situations that will make him look like he has low character.

  4. wishingtonredslur says: May 4, 2014 3:55 PM

    I’ve met a lot of drinkers but I haven’t met a lot of drinkers that fired a gun down a public street.

  5. thebirdofprey2 says: May 4, 2014 3:57 PM

    Long gone are the days of class and prestige of the 49ers. No character, no class and no championships.

  6. biggestredmiami says: May 4, 2014 3:59 PM

    Money changes people, either for better or for worse.

  7. thestrategyexpert says: May 4, 2014 4:00 PM

    Well I would be interested to know on what basis they thought he was a high character person and how they went about figuring that out, perhaps they missed some warning signs or perhaps there weren’t any to find. People have a funny way of formulating opinions sometimes and two different people can sometimes have very different perspectives.

    I can remember how much I was touting on about Vontaze Burfict being a spectacular prospect and in particular due to his attitude which I thought was really special. Yet I kept hearing throughout the whole draft season how every NFL scout that he had a horrible attitude. These are the professionals that get paid big money and they had the complete opposite viewpoint that I had. That’s crazy, but that doesn’t mean the scouts of those teams that gave him negative points for his attitude had a qualified and legit reason for doing so.

    We don’t know if the 49ers did a lousy job of evaluating his character or if it was just an oversight, and figuring this out isn’t necessarily going to be applicable to any other future player who is not Aldon Smith.

  8. fdugrad says: May 4, 2014 4:00 PM

    It was a miscommunication over the phone lines from the Niner’s draft day War Room regarding the USAGE of the word “HIGH.”

  9. theflyingelvis says: May 4, 2014 4:01 PM

    I’ve had to deal with someone like that, someone who you think is great and they turn out to be anything but. The bottom line is, if someone REALLY wants to hide who they really are, they’ll do it and you’ll never be the wiser until it’s too late. Just look at Aaron Hernandez.

  10. chicagotomahawk says: May 4, 2014 4:02 PM

    They got the ‘high’ part right. Did we ever find out what was in that baggy of pills he had? You know, when he was blackout drunk foot on the gas crashed into a tree at 7 am on a schoolday? The all American young man that he is.

  11. purpleppleeaters says: May 4, 2014 4:05 PM

    Two DUI’s in 27 months. Three felony weapons charges pending. A bomb threat at LAX. ……………and his contract option gets picked up.

    Donald Sterling makes some racist comments in private, and he gets banned from the NBA.

    Anyone else see a tad bit of inequity, here?
    I am not defending Sterling, by any stretch, but come on…………..

  12. thefiesty1 says: May 4, 2014 4:08 PM

    As Forrest Gump said “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’ll get”. That describes Aldon Smith.

  13. classyjacklambert says: May 4, 2014 4:13 PM

    thebirdofprey2 says:
    May 4, 2014 3:57 PM
    Long gone are the days of class and prestige of the 49ers. No character, no class and no championships.

    As opposed to the Seahawks which have no character, no class, and one championship.

  14. shlort says: May 4, 2014 4:15 PM

    Now he is just plain HIGH!….

    Yeah, a couple others said the same type of thing, but the work “High” is what really stuck out in the article headline. High is a word automatically associates with Aldon Smith.

  15. coltzfan166 says: May 4, 2014 4:16 PM

    They clearly didn’t look at him hard enough.

  16. sandy102270 says: May 4, 2014 4:17 PM

    They might want to consider changing the way they evaluate based off this information.

  17. h0c2000 says: May 4, 2014 4:18 PM

    Now he’s a high BAC guy.

  18. thegreatgabbert says: May 4, 2014 4:27 PM

    Aldon is fine. Get off his case.

  19. t8ertot says: May 4, 2014 4:34 PM

    Also look at Vontaze Burfict

  20. bert1913 says: May 4, 2014 4:36 PM

    what lesson did aldon learn? make big mistakes and get rewarded.

  21. shayeezy says: May 4, 2014 4:37 PM

    dude passed out drunk and crashed into a tree, where his foot remained on the gas. he’s lucky he didn’t drive through a house. then he said he had a bomb in an airport. so he’s a danger to society *and* dumber than rocks. but yeah, he’s fine.

  22. Brinke says: May 4, 2014 4:37 PM

    well, that’s a miss.

  23. kamthechancellor says: May 4, 2014 4:38 PM

    Lots of guys are high character until they get that first check. And I had to laugh at Harbaugh’s quote, I’ve come to believe that if Slick Jim’s lips are moving, it’s a GD lie.

  24. seaeagle707 says: May 4, 2014 4:39 PM

    When the pads are on and the helmet strapped in place, many are the guys who take on a completely different persona, than they possess in everyday life. Aldon is evidently just one of those guys who has never had the benefit of strong parental controls when young, or great role models to emulate as he’s gotten older.

  25. bornahawker says: May 4, 2014 4:43 PM

    You do the best with what you have in this league, 31 other clubs would grab this guy in a second. I dread this guy twice per season and am just glad Smith is slowing easing the burden of blocking the NINERS D-Line. If he was a Hawk I would want them to babysit this guy as well.
    I hope the best for the young man, but I still hope to go 2-0 versus those guys next season. GO HAWKS!

  26. kingpel says: May 4, 2014 4:44 PM

    He still could be a high character guy. Unfortunately they underestimated his substance abuse issues.

  27. htown995 says: May 4, 2014 4:59 PM

    First i have to say that harbaugh has a great eye for drafting talent but not character and i dont like the 49ers but i respect them that they have a heck of a defense

  28. CrownsDownFootball420 says: May 4, 2014 5:06 PM

    purpleppleeaters says:
    May 4, 2014 4:05 PM
    Two DUI’s in 27 months. Three felony weapons charges pending. A bomb threat at LAX. ……………and his contract option gets picked up.

    Donald Sterling makes some racist comments in private, and he gets banned from the NBA.

    Anyone else see a tad bit of inequity, here?
    I am not defending Sterling, by any stretch, but come on…………..

    Yes.. it is unequal. But the difference is that Aldon Smith doesn’t employ players in his sport or have the power that Donald Sterling does to affect a persons livelihood.

  29. zerocool62 says: May 4, 2014 5:12 PM

    yes Smith has his off field personal issues, but on the bright side theres no way he gets this much attention 5-10 years ago with Nolan or the next joker we had at coach. 49ers are finally good again and the lights shine on the good teams.

  30. Dogsweat says: May 4, 2014 5:14 PM

    Aldon and Colin will be the greatest at their positions when all is said and done, Colin is already twice as good than Montana was.

    Aldon will surpass all.

  31. hess97 says: May 4, 2014 5:23 PM

    If you know where Aldon lives, his home backs up to an open field/ hills in San Jose. This where he and Delanoe Walker fired shots with guns that are legal in every state outside of California. His unwelcomed guests fired the shots in a public setting.

  32. killitandeatit says: May 4, 2014 6:19 PM

    Ray Rice knocks out his G.F. ,drags her around,on camera, New England’s Hernandez, Roethlisberger (let’s not forget the missing tape) but the last time I checked he is the Steelers starting q.b. and sadly,the face of the franchise. Aldon has done nothing that even remotely approaches the afford mentioned individuals. Aldon happens to be on a front runner team or you wouldn’t be that interested or that worked up about his status.
    The whole football world is watching Aldon and the train wreck is not going to happen . The 49ers are going to invest in a handler to help him through this rough patch and …airport security. You will all cheer when he misses 4 games,niners got that covered,and you will be sadly disappointed when he returns to dominate as a premier pass rusher.

  33. 1sttimepftcomment says: May 4, 2014 6:35 PM

    It takes longer than the last college game till the draft to gage someone’s character, talk is cheap!

  34. harrisonhits2 says: May 4, 2014 7:15 PM

    Sometimes you just can’t tell how someone will react to bigtime fame and piles o’ money. Doesn’t mean that the 9ers didn’t perform due diligence. What it does show is whether or not Smith was a good guy before hitting the nfl, he’s a huge jerk now.

  35. sterling7 says: May 4, 2014 7:22 PM

    “Before the 2011 draft, 49ers saw Aldon Smith as a high-character guy”-uh-oh!?!

  36. longsufferingkcfan says: May 4, 2014 7:38 PM

    I think he’s still an “all-American” young man, considering that we have one of the highest crime rates of any developed country.

  37. chawkup says: May 4, 2014 7:50 PM

    Above reproach. ‘Nuff Said.

  38. nomoreseasontix says: May 4, 2014 7:55 PM

    It just shows how hard it is to predict what a dumb guy with no money will be like when he becomes a dumb guy with money.
    It shouldn’t be that hard. It seems that dumb guys with new money stand out like a turd in a punch bowl.

  39. jikkle49 says: May 4, 2014 8:17 PM

    Aldon Smith is a person with a problem with alcohol and there are plenty of functioning alcoholics out there that seem like perfectly great people until they start drinking.

    He’s not a bad guy just a stupid one that makes stupid decisions that could hurt himself and worse of all other people.

    I just think he’s a guy that needs some help and guidance to get his life on track and to grow up and make better decisions.

  40. andreboy1 says: May 4, 2014 8:57 PM

    A negative article on PFT about th 49ers?

    That’s so uncommon

    #JumpshipPete

  41. realitycheckbaby says: May 4, 2014 9:44 PM

    Starts at the top.

  42. gammynomnom says: May 4, 2014 10:27 PM

    I don’t think I would trust a Harbaugh as a good judge of character to be honest.

  43. chiadam says: May 4, 2014 11:15 PM

    Sounds about right for that franchise.

  44. cacheesehead1237 says: May 4, 2014 11:16 PM

    Who would ever believe anything that comes out of Harbaugh’s mouth. He is a habitual liar

  45. sidbrown210 says: May 4, 2014 11:31 PM

    I was a “high character guy” in college but come on, 24 years old and your first job comes with a house, fame, fortune and you’re one the best at what you do in 2 years? Those factors would change a lot of “high character” people. Maturity takes time.

  46. sandy102270 says: May 5, 2014 12:25 AM

    “Ray Rice knocks out his G.F. ,drags her around,on camera, New England’s Hernandez, Roethlisberger … Aldon has done nothing that even remotely approaches the afford mentioned individuals. Aldon happens to be on a front runner team or you wouldn’t be that interested or that worked up about his status.”

    Huh? Are you seriously suggesting that this is a conspiracy because the 49ers are a frontrunner and the others, who play[ed] for 3 of the 4 winningest franchises of the 2000s are getting a pass because those teams aren’t?

    Hubris at it’s finest.

  47. kenconlogue says: May 5, 2014 12:46 AM

    An corporate resource called Human Resource Tactics does evaluations on college football players’ character tendencies. They had Smith nailed. Red flagged him and projected him to have all sorts of off-field problems. This company is used by many, if not all NFL teams. It’s just that some choose to ignore the data, which has been incredibly accurate. So, the niners made their choice, and they’ll have to live with it.

  48. kenconlogue says: May 5, 2014 12:54 AM

    you may be as drunk as Aldon. Colin will never have the vision required to be an elite passer. So even the limp-wristed Montana will always be the man. And, hey 9er fan, ever heard of Charles Haley? He was on YOUR team, and Smith will never be able to hold Haley’s jock.

  49. allidoiswin55 says: May 5, 2014 3:12 AM

    Hess97 .. Dude he fired those shots at a party he threw with paid admission . The person at the party also fired but was invited and paid therefore fulfilling the home owners wishes . Also someone was hit with those bullets to the other moron claiming firing into a open field .

    I like Aldon as a player but the dude is a wreck he should and will be suspended an entire year . You like to forget he has yet to face nfl punishment . The team cant precede nfl policies and allow a player to play then voluntarily go to rehab and see no punishment from the league . Explain to me with a straight face , how in gods name can someone be addicted to drugs ( drinking and driving and having drugs on him ) . How does someone with prior issues NEVER FAIL A DRUG TEST but supposedly is addicted ? When you can explain that to me without explaining some sort of tampering possibility I’ll understand . Just bc he’s not being charges with drug possession doesn’t mean they didn’t find drugs and he wasn’t on them with alcohol .

    This and may other reasons is why Aldon is the poster child for being suspended an entire season . You simply cannot punish your players in hopes of not receiving an nfl suspension . You also any have as many incidents as Aldon has had without reprocussions , remember he was stabbed before also and it turns out he was fighting. I love the player he’s an absolute beast , he’s extremely productive but you can not honestly defend someone whose made this many mistakes and has yet to forfeit pay (bc not suspended by league ) and hasn’t learned his lesson . Wait til he runs over your family member or delays your flight and connections over his dumb actions . You’ll sing a different tune .

  50. sourdoughsam says: May 5, 2014 4:47 AM

    It’s hard to project how a guy is going to transition from an environment where he has no money but everything is provided and laid out for him to one where he has more money than he can figure out how to spend and no one telling him what not to do with it. I’m guessing he probably wasn’t allowed to keep guns and a fully stocked bar in his room at Mizzou, so there really wouldn’t have been warning signs for the path he’s gone down. I hope he wises up and kicks his booze habit soon, because he’s a very special talent and it would be a shame to see that go to waste.

    On a side note – it scares me to think of how college players will handle their money if they’re paid what they think they deserve.

  51. joetoronto says: May 5, 2014 5:04 AM

    “I’m really impressed with him as a person, he’s an all-American young man,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said the day Smith was drafted.

    Yes, he’s perfect for the Team of Turds.

  52. flexx91 says: May 5, 2014 8:15 AM

    Donald Sterling makes some racist comments in private, and he gets banned from the NBA.

    Anyone else see a tad bit of inequity, here?
    I am not defending Sterling, by any stretch, but come on…………..
    ___________________________________

    Do you think he can continue to own a team when more than half of the people he’s speaking against are his employees? Quite sure you wouldn’t want to work for your boss if he/she felt the same towards you. And by the way, he doesn’t own the NBA. He owns a franchise.

  53. ravensfaninflorida says: May 5, 2014 8:28 AM

    Notice the keyword….. “SAW”? This doesn’t sound good for Smith’s future with the 9er’s.

  54. johnnyb216 says: May 5, 2014 8:41 AM

    The dude is mental…

  55. paythevig says: May 5, 2014 9:16 AM

    Whatever, he’s a winner – and you’d be lying if you said you’d never want him on your team. Get over it. People are tired of hearing about the 49ers. 3 years and going strong. 1st year was a “fluke”, 2nd year would be a “regression to the mean” and 3rd year – same old story.

    Get used to the 49ers being on top. Almost every franchise goes through its ups and downs, and some terrible ones stay terrible for the long run.

    What most people hate but can’t deny is that the 49ers have a GREAT front office, and a GREAT core of young leaders who are all-pro’s at their position. A handful of players having their issues doesn’t detract from a team of 53 + team personnel.

    Media won’t report the countless acts of good by the leaders and role models of the team. Those stories don’t get internet clicks. I’m a proud niners fan and glad that we’re in a position to be great year in and year out. I like this view in the upper tier.

    All those detractors out there – if your team is playing the 49ers – i know you have a little concern come sunday/monday (thurs). Don’t act like it’s all good.

    For all the chatter back and forth – at least the seahawks back it up on the field. Time to battle for that NFC West.

  56. melikefootball says: May 5, 2014 12:16 PM

    Where are you at God-del, nothing from the league office yet on this character.

  57. troutguide says: May 5, 2014 1:29 PM

    What’s funny to me is that all this “no class” business coming from Hawks fans. While Aldon has screwed up big time, look at your own team? PEDs, Coach Carrol, Lynch, Sherman. Bottom line is both team have their screw ups, the only difference is the Hawks finally won. Just enjoy the moment. One thing for sure is, at some point one your guys will have a public screw up. Are you then gonna jump ship? Heck no, it’s your team!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!