The San Francisco 49ers have always been an organization about legacy and class. From Joe Montana to even the talkative but law abiding Terrell Owens, the organization has always been a team with a scandal-free locker room that would rival the league. That perspective may have changed with all the events that unfolded this off-season. Starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick, starting linebacker Aldon Smith, and starting cornerback Chris Culliver have all had their names in the media as of late. The San Francisco off-season troubles continue as the 49ers key players may face lingering legal issues.
Kaepernick is a young, outstanding player with a bright future ahead of him in the NFL. In just a short amount of playing time, the young quarterback was able to not only throw for over 5,000 yards but also use his agility and speed to rush for close to 1,000 yards. After beating out incumbent QB Alex Smith for the position, the 49ers have been met with success and have once again been put into the national spotlight. This time, however, has not been a very positive experience. Kaepernick has been part of an ongoing sexual misconduct investigation in Florida. The Miami police did not specify details of the case, but his involvement in this incident is being thoroughly investigated.
Fellow 49ers teammate Quinton Patton and Seattle Seahawks player Ricardo Lockette are also being investigated by police. Aldon Smith has been in the headlines throughout his whole career for all the wrong reasons. From his two previous DUI’s to a recent bomb threat incident that instantly triggered memories of the scene from Meet The Parents, Smith has been a handful for the organization. The 24-year-old linebacker has also been a handful to quarterbacks; he holds the 49ers single season sack record and has accumulated the most sacks in two seasons faster than anyone in NFL history. While the young San Francisco Pro Bowler does need adjustment in his personal life, Smith and the 49ers organization will focus on their relationship together and whether or not both parties will continue forward despite the recent trouble, or decide to part ways.
While Chris Culliver’s name has not been front page news or the first topic on sports networks, the 49ers cornerback’s legal troubles is no less serious. Culliver was arrested in northern California back in March for a hit-and-run incident. Witnesses reported seeing the 25-year-old’s vehicle striking a cyclist and then ramming another vehicle after fleeing the scene in San Jose. Culliver pleaded not guilty in Santa Clara Superior Court and is not expected to be released from the team.
As the young NFL stars gain positive results on the field, their success does not transition well outside of it. The recent arrests and media coverage has been embarrassing for the organization. With recent talks and crack down on NFL culture and behavior, it will be interesting to see the methods and actions taken by the league. The San Francisco organization will be keeping an eye on the situation as it continues, but the troubles that follow the 49ers seem to be far from over.
Commentary by Hector Carrion