San Francisco 49ers second-year linebacker Aldon Smith is learning from the mistakes of the past, even though he is adamant that his latest alleged off-field incident did not happen.
Allegations surfaced that Smith was involved in an altercation in which he was attacked near Colombia, Mo., where the former first-round pick starred at the University of Missouri. When pressed about the altercation, Smith said, "Really the whole thing was absurd. That didn't happen. It was one of those things."
Those things are happening with too much frequency for the comfort level of the 49ers, who are going to rely heavily on Smith to anchor their No. 1 ranked defense in 2012 and beyond. He was arrested and charged with a DUI in Miami Beach in January and suffered multiple injuries stemming from stab wounds suffered at a house party he hosted in July.
"I'm growing," he added. I'm growing up. I'm learning from my actions. I'm maturing."
That's good news for the Niners faithful as Smith leads the team with 7.5 sacks on the year. His contributions will be necessary for the team to regain its postseason form that saw it come within a play of representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. At 6-2, San Francisco sits atop the NFC West.