49ers GM: NFL discipline on Smith could come soon
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said Saturday that he expects the NFL's decision on a possible suspension for linebacker Aldon Smith to be announced soon, perhaps even before the preseason begins Aug. 7.
Baalke also stressed that he had not been told of any specific timeline from the league - just that Smith will meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell soon and a decision should come shortly after that.
''Don't have a date. We know it's going to happen sooner rather than later. Certainly, this isn't something that's going to drag into the season and may not even drag as far as into the preseason games itself,'' Baalke said. ''It's something that's going to be addressed. We've been in contact with the league, the league's been in contact with us, but we don't have a set date at this moment.''
Smith was sentenced last week to three years of probation and to spend 11 days with a work crew after he pleaded no contest to drunken driving and weapons charges. He is expected to serve on the work crew on Mondays, which are a scheduled day off for the 49ers.
Baalke said 49ers owner Jed York has spoken with Goodell about Smith's expected discipline. The linebacker underwent treatment at an in-patient facility and missed five games last year following his DUI arrest, though he did play the first game after the incident.
Baalke said the team can lobby on Smith's behalf and for a speedy decision but can't decide how the process plays out.
''Do we have any say? We can give our thoughts. We can give our input. But it's really up to the commissioner,'' Baalke said.
Baalke's comments came during a rare and impromptu visit with writers inside the new media workroom at Levi's Stadium. He addressed all team matters - or, in many cases, declined to address them - during the 47-minute session, including the contracts of tight end Vernon Davis and training camp holdout and right guard Alex Boone.
Davis and Boone skipped the team's voluntary offseason workout program and mandatory minicamp, which could draw a fine up to $70,000. Davis has since returned for training camp and said he's focused on football.
Baalke declined to discuss either's contract status at length. Asked if Davis should be among the recent players such as quarterback Colin Kaepernick and left tackle Joe Staley given an extension, Baalke said ''he's certainly one of those guys that deserves to be a 49er.''
Baalke also was asked if there had been any recent discussions with Boone or his agent, possibly trading the lineman and the team's philosophy about negotiating with training camp holdouts. Each time, Baalke said he didn't want to get into a ''merry-go-round'' of discussing the issues.
''I find nothing positive is going to come from discussing any of this, our strategies, how we deal with players, how we deal with this situation versus others,'' Baalke said. ''I've never seen anything positive come from that, with anybody that's used those techniques.''
Baalke also reverted to that answer when asked about the contracts of wide receiver Michael Crabtree and left guard Mike Iupati. Both are entering the final seasons of their deals.
But the general manager spoke of a consistent theme throughout while addressing the countless issues around that team: that the 49ers have enough talent and depth to compete for the franchise's elusive sixth Super Bowl title.
San Francisco has gone to three straight NFC championships and one Super Bowl without winning the Lombardi Trophy. Baalke said it's up to the players in camp to come together and make it happen now.
''The saying that I like to go by is, `Individuals win games. You win a lot of games with individuals. You win championships with teams,''' he said. ''Teams win championships - that's the bottom line. Can you take 90 guys at the start of camp and meld them into a team that has the fortitude, the resolve, the work ethic, the passion, the compassion, all those things that go into building a team? That's the challenge. That's the greatest challenge. We like our odds.''
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