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Niners can't help but be concerned about Aldon Smith

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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By Dan Arkush

After earning consistently high marks for the high character he displayed as a first-round rookie last offseason in grueling voluntary workouts at San Jose State under the direction of teammates Alex Smith and Justin Smith, it’s been a much different story so far this offseason for Niners OLB Aldon Smith in the wake of two run-ins with the law in the last six months.

“I’m sure they (the Niners’ organization) have got to be all over him,” one team insider said. “I mean, in this latest incident (Smith allegedly suffered a minor stab wound in the wee hours June 30 at a large party he was hosting in San Jose — just five months after a DUI arrest in Miami Beach), he could have gotten killed! There isn’t a more committed, dedicated group of players on any team in the NFL, and I know they’re all really depending on him to help them get to the Super Bowl. I can’t imagine anybody on the team not being pretty concerned about this.”

The consensus among daily team observers seems to be that the 22-year-old Smith, the youngest player on the Niners’ roster last season, has been victimized by a basic lack of maturity since the end of what couldn’t have been a more sensational rookie campaign on the field.

“He’s not a guy who has been in any real trouble before. He’s pretty smart,” the insider said. “But he’s young and impressionable. It would appear he seriously has to reassess the people he’s been hanging out with.”

Sources on the scene tell us that Smith, who is being inserted into a key every-down role this season, has hardly let his off-field problems affect him on the field so far this offseason.

“He looks real good, like the same guy as last year,” the insider said. “There has been no dropoff. He’s looked a little awkward in some coverage situations, but he really makes this defense go.”

Niners defensive coordinator Vic Fangio indicated at the start of the offseason that Smith could see close to 1,000 snaps at right outside linebacker this season after playing only 20-30 snaps at the position last season.

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