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Ronnie Lott on Aldon Smith: 'I'm worried about him as an individual'

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Ronnie Lott won four titles with the 49ers from '81-'90. (USATSI)
Ronnie Lott won four titles with the 49ers from '81-'90. (USATSI)

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San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport and charged with false report of a bomb threat. It's the latest legal entanglement for the 49ers' former first-round pick, who was arrested last September on suspicion of DUI charges.

He has since been released on $20,000 bail.

Forty-Niners general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement that "We are disappointed to learn of the incident today involving Aldon Smith." Meanwhile, Hall of Famer and former 49ers great Ronnie Lott says he's concerned for Smith, the 2011 first-round pick who has 42 sacks in 43 NFL games.

"I felt bad for him," Lott told MercuryNews.com. "He's got so much ahead of him as a person. Forget football -- as a person. "I'm worried about him as an individual. ... I'm sure that the people that are working with him with the 49ers will do a good job. They have very good people."

Lott, now 54, played in San Francisco from 1981-1990 and won four Super Bowl rings during that span. He also learned early on from veterans like Hacksaw Reynolds, Willie Harper and Charle Young about the expectations that come with being a member of the 49ers.

"Those guys let you know that if you were going to play for a long time, 90 percent of it was going to depend on your capacity to make decisions,'' Lott said.

And as Lott's career progressed, he went from wide-eyed rookie to grizzled veteran who expected a lot from teammates on and off the field.

"Ronnie was our CEO. When he talked, we listened," former 49ers running back Craig told MercuryNews.com. "And what we would do as football players is take ownership as a team and say: Let's stop this kind of stuff."

At last month's NFL owners meetings, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of Smith's return to the lineup late last season after a stint in rehab following a DUI arrest: "I thought he did a good job in all those regards, as a player, as a teammate, decisions he was making."

And 49ers CEO Jed York said from the owners meetings that while the team had remained in contact with Smith, they had also given him room, as required by the collective bargaining agreement.

"A lot of people are working with him, but you don't want to set up anything that's uncomfortable and anything that's beyond what the CBA rules are," York said. "You can only do so much. Somebody has to work for himself if they're going to get through these issues."

Smith, 24, faces likely criminal charges, as well as possible discipline from the league office.

"I'm always amazed because you work so hard to get there (to the NFL),'' Lott said. "But once you're there, you have to figure out how to do more: You have other responsibilities. Now that you're there, you have to be responsible."

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