One day after Aldon Smith was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport comes news that the team will host one of the more talented pass rushers in the upcoming draft. Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who had 10 ½ sacks last season and is considered a late first-round pick, will visit next week.
A league source said the travel arrangements were made a week ago, before Smith was arrested at LAX for allegedly telling security personnel he had a bomb. Smith posted $20,000 bond and was released Sunday. Still, Smith's third arrest since 2012 must elevate pass rusher on the 49ers' list of draft needs. It's not known whether the NFL or the 49ers will suspend Smith and it's certainly possible that the team could release him.
Smith, who holds the franchise's single-season sack record, is entering the final year of his contract. The 49ers must decide by May 3 to pick up a fifth-year option on that deal. If they did, Smith would be in line to earn nearly $10 million in 2015 if he is still on the roster at the start of the new league year in early March.
In the last several years, the 49ers have felt that the strength of their locker room - led by hard-working players like Justin Smith and Patrick Willis - could accommodate younger players with so-called character concerns. However, that notion has been damaged by seven separate arrests since January 2012 when Aldon Smith was pulled over for DUI in Miami Beach. There have been additional police-blotter incidents involving three other players that have not led to arrests.
Lawrence then becomes an interesting prospect. The underclassman is 6-3, 251 pounds, and has the long arms (33 ¾ inches) and big hands (11 inches) that general manager Trent Baalke loves. He is a two-time first-team All-Mountain West selection who, in addition to his sack total last season, also had 20 ½ tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
However, he also was suspended on three different occasions for violation of team rules. That's likely a big reason why the 49ers want to meet him in person prior to the draft.
-- Matt Barrows