NFL Media's Albert Breer reported Friday that the team will exercise the pass rusher's fifth-year option, according to a source. The 49ers later confirmed the decision, just hours ahead of the deadline.
There were legitimate questions as to whether the 49ers would keep Smith around beyond 2014. General manager Trent Baalke acknowledged last week that the organization was "disappointed" with the outside linebacker's ballooning history of off-the-field concerns, the latest coming when Smith was booked on a false report of a bomb threat at the Los Angeles International Airport in April.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport told NFL Network on Friday that despite Smith becoming a "frustrating figure for the 49ers," the team "met on it" this week and considered the $9.754 million option a "smart business move" for the team.
Rapoport also reported that a turning point in the 49ers' decision to keep Smith was the All-Pro's reaction to a very intense and real conversation with Baalke on Wednesday, according to a source informed of the situation. Smith's response to the GM's words helped convince the Niners that he was worth committing to. Before this conversation, it was unlikely San Francisco would pick up Smith's fifth-year option.
Smith might still be subject to a league-imposed suspension for his latest antics, which come on the heels of multiple felony gun charges and a DUI during his time in San Francisco. He started last season on San Francisco's reserve/NFI list to undergo voluntary treatment for alcohol and drug issues before returning to the field in Week 9.
Were he not such a force on defense, the 49ers would have parted ways with Smith weeks ago -- if not last season -- but his 42 sacks over 43 career appearances are irreplaceable. Baalke and friends are betting on the fourth-year defender getting his life together in a hurry.