Are the San Francisco 49ers in over their heads? The California team, which has come so close to making the Super Bowl over the past few years, is making headlines recently for all the wrong reasons.

In a strange series of events, 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, who has a history of criminal activity, was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport for making a false bomb threat.  Apparently, the NFL star was being searched by TSA officials when he rather carelessly decided to joke that he had a bomb on his person, resulting in a search of his belongings and criminal charges being filed against him. Although he has yet to be formally charged in the incident, clearly the arrest is not a good thing.

Smith, who is an impending free agent and is seeking a new contract from the 49ers, apparently didn’t realize that it would be taken so seriously. The question I want to ask is: Why would such a thing be necessary? As a player seeking a new contract, why would Smith even remotely consider doing anything so contentious, especially in this new, stricter NFL where star players like DeSean Jackson are cut for even being rumored to be involved in criminal activity?  If I were his agent, I would have a sit down conversation with him and tell him to just play nice and don’t do anything stupid, considering what he has at stake.

In addition to legal troubles concerning Smith, the 49ers are also faced with the possibility of star quarterback Colin Kaepernick being involved in suspicious activity. Kaepernick is being investigated in a case involving a woman who woke up in the hospital after a night of drinking with Kaepernick and some other NFL players, though no accusations have been leveled his way.  The woman involved in the incident had a past sexual relationship with Kaepernick, and ended up drinking with and kissing him on the night in question, though she denies that the two had sex.  She stated that she doesn’t remember anything strange happening that night, but is still unsure how she ended up in the hospital.

Even if Kaepernick is found to be uninvolved in the incident, the fact that his name has even been mentioned is bad for the 49ers, who have been trying to ditch their stereotype as a team that employs thuggish players. As such, the team has decided to put contract extension talks with the quarterback on hold, since they don’t want to sign a player who could end up being bad for the organization. This is yet another example of an NFL player seeing his future revenue potentially damaged by altercations with the law, since Kaepernick may need to sign for a reduced price if he is found to be involved in the incident.

The question is now open to the 49ers: Are you comfortable signing two very talented players who may have questionable pasts? Or, will you cut ties with the two like DeSean Jackson?

The 49ers seem to be standing behind Kaepernick since he has not been accused of any wrongdoing as of yet and is their franchise quarterback. They are unsure, however, if they want to cut Smith or retain his services, since they feel he is a talented young player.

Smith’s contract has expired, though it contains an option for a fifth year if the 49ers want it. The problem with resigning such a player is that it sends a bad message to the rest of the team, which is exactly what the 49ers are trying to avoid. If I were the 49ers, I would wait and see if anything develops from Smith’s arrest. If charges are pressed, then you can cut him without any problem. If no charges are pressed, however, it may be prudent to pick up the fifth year and see if he can turn his life around.

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