Extra Points: Harbaugh takes a hit in Smith debacle

12:56 PM, Sep 23, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Jim Harbaugh isn't used to failure as a head coach, so perhaps it was apropos that his old college quarterback -- Andrew Luck -- and the Indianapolis Colts handed the San Francisco 49ers mentor his first losing streak in three years with a convincing 27-7 win on Sunday.

Harbaugh was a loser on two fronts in Week 3 and his misstep on the football field paled in comparison to his handling of All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith.

The troubled Smith was taken into custody Friday morning for suspicion of DUI after running his truck into a tree at 7 a.m., where cops allegedly found the Missouri product with his foot still on the accelerator.

Smith blew a .15 on his breathalyzer test -- almost double the legal limit in California -- and marijuana also was found in the vehicle.

It was the second time Smith had been arrested on DUI chargers over the last 20 months, a time frame which includes an incident in which Smith was stabbed at a house party.

And understand Smith's latest transgression happened despite the fact he was scheduled to be at the 49ers' facility for meetings and practice by 8 a.m.

This is a kid whose life is clearing spiraling out of control, but the arrest actually gave the star pass rusher a chance to sober up and by noon, he was bailed out and back on the practice field with his team, a black mark on what has been quite a honeymoon for Harbaugh in the Bay Area.

Common sense still hadn't taken hold by Sunday and Smith played in all 67 of San Francisco's defensive snaps against the Colts with Harbaugh and the 49ers hiding behind the collective bargaining agreement, which to be fair did take a suspension off the table.

The CBA says only the league can suspend players for substance-abuse issues, something that will assuredly happen once the case itself is adjudicated.

That said, Harbaugh could have easily taken a stand as both a football coach and a human being by simple deactivating Smith. Instead he placed a win over his old friend Luck above all else, including the health and well-being of one of his top players.

Don't think so?

Back in 2012 Demarcus Dobbs, a San Francisco special-teams player. was arrested on a Friday and charged with DUI and marijuana possession. Dobbs never made the trip to St. Louis for the scheduled game over the weekend.

Harbaugh is hardly the first coach to have a different set of rules for great players, but he was the only one twisting his own ethos into a pretzel on Sunday.

"The sole reason (Smith is) playing is because they care more about winning a child's game than what a man does with his life," outspoken former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe said via Twitter.

After getting their one last pound of flesh from the troubled Smith, the Niners finally moved to the public relations phase of their specious plan, confirming Smith would be taking an "indefinite leave" with reports surfacing he's agreed to enter an in-patient facility to deal with his problems.

"I think this was the best thing for Aldon," said 49ers CEO Jed York. "And again, there's no right answer here."

Actually there was a right answer and it was a pretty easy one: take a 180- degree turn from what San Francisco actually did.

"We feel like there was no right decision," York continued. "There was no right way to do it, but this was, in our opinion, the best way to do it. We're going to support Aldon to the fullest as long as he's willing to support himself and work towards making things right."

That's lip service.

Harbaugh, York and the Niners organization already tipped their hands on what they think of Smith by playing him against the Colts. He's a disposable prop to help them win games on Sunday.

It's up to Smith and Smith alone to get the help he desperately needs.

"This is a problem and it's something that I will get fixed," Smith said. "I'll do everything in my power to make sure that this never happens again. I also wanted to let everybody know that once again I'm sorry and, like I said, this won't happen again."

The Sports Network

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