Forty-Niners general manager Trent Baalke spoke to the media Friday for the first time since Aldon Smith was arrested on April 13, and he made it clear that despite Smith's latest legal entanglement, the team would stand by the standout linebacker.
"We're a family," Baalke said, via the Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows. "You don't just open a door and toss people out of it."
Smth, who was charged almost two weeks ago with a "false report of a bomb threat" at Los Angeles International Airport, has been working out with the team since April 21, the start of offseason workouts. Shortly after Smith's arrest -- his third since 2012 -- the MercuryNews.com's Tim Kawakami reported that several sources involved with the team's decision making said that not only had Smith lost the benefit of the doubt, he might not play for the 49ers in 2014.
Baalke's comments suggest otherwise, but the general manager didn't get into specifics about whether the 49ers would pick up the 2015 option on Smith's rookie deal, which is worth $9.75 million. The deadline for the decision is May 3, though speculation is that the team will decide against it.
Meanwhile, the 49ers continue to make preparations for the NFL Draft. Baalke insists the team has "always looked at character" and even said that there have been "very few off-the-field incidents over the last three, four years."
In addition to Smith, cornerback Chris Culliver was arrested on hit-and-run charges last month, and several weeks ago, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and wideout Quinton Patton -- along with former 49er Ricardo Lockette -- were named in a Miami Police incident report filed by an unnamed woman.
"Are we disappointed that we've had a string (of incidents)? Absolutely. Absolutely we are" Baalke said. "But at the same, very proud of the group of men that are in that locker room and what they stand for on the field and off the field. And have a lot of trust in them. A lot of trust. As much trust as I have in them, almost as (much) as the trust I have in my own family, my own children."