Delanie Walker, who lost an aunt and uncle to an alleged drunk driver hours after the Super Bowl, said he was partly surprised to hear that former 49ers teammate Aldon Smith was involved in another DUI incident last month. But he also noted that Smith's issues fit a pattern.
"You've got to remember, a lot of us come into this league not having a dime in our name," Walker said on a conference call. "And then you sign million-dollar contracts. I mean, you go out and kind of lose your mind a little bit. And I think it takes time."
It's been an offseason of change for Walker, a 2006 draft pick by the 49ers. He signed a long-term free-agent contract with the Titans, whom the 49ers will face in Nashville Sunday. And he became an anti-drunk driving crusader after his aunt, Alice Young, who had helped raise Walker, was killed along with her husband, Bryan, when they pulled to the side of a highway outside New Orleans.
According to police, a 26-year-old woman struck the couple's car from behind at more than 100 mph, causing both vehicles to burst into flames. The driver was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, one count of driving while intoxicated and one count of reckless operation of a motor vehicle.
Walker has become an active member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and he said he has an event after the 49ers come to town. One of his goals is to eliminate drunk driving incidents among NFL players. He said that most players have issues with self control in their first two or three years after becoming professionals when they suddenly have money and fame they never had before.
"Then they start to realize, you're a role model," Walker said. "You've got to be a bigger person. You've got to separate yourselves from people that put you in that situation."
Asked if he was surprised about Smith, who drove through a residential front yard in San Jose and who allegedly had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit, Walker gave a mixed answer. "Aldon's a young guy. He's a little wild dude," he said. "He's kind of wild. I didn't think that something like that would happen during the season ... I would think that he wouldn't get into any more trouble after what was going on, but I don't know. I don't know how he's changed. I haven't been out there in San Francisco. I haven't talked to him in a while. It kind of did surprise me a little bit."
Walker said he tried to call Smith, 24, after the latest DUI incident but the 49ers linebacker had turned off his phone. Smith is in the fourth week of an in-patient treatment program he entered three days after his Sept. 20 DUI arrest.
Smith also was arrested for DUI in January 2012, a charge that was later reduced to reckless driving. He also was charged with three felony gun violations this month after three semi-automatic rifles were found at his home following a house party run amok in June 2012.
Smith and Walker are named in a civil suit filed by two men who were shot at that party. The suits allege that the players, both of whom were members of the 49ers at the time, shot guns in the air to disperse the out-of-control party. The men were later shot when the party goers were leaving; ballistics tests show neither was shot by Smith or Walker.
-- Matt Barrows