The question heading into the offseason is, do the San Francisco 49ers feel the same way?
Smith is set to be a free agent in 2015. The 49ers will be able to extend his deal in the offseason. Smith and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (also slated to be a free agent in 2015) are considered major organizational centerpieces moving forward.
However, Smith's future became complicated this season. He voluntarily entered a substance abuse treatment center and missed five games after his second arrest for drunk driving in less than two years. He is also facing felony gun charges stemming from a 2012 party at his house.
The 49ers have stood by Smith and they believe in him. By all accounts, he has done the right things in his personal life since returning to the team in late October.
On the field, as Polian wrote, there are no worries. The No. 7 pick of the 2011 draft is a sublime pass-rushing talent. He has 6.5 sacks in eight games this season and he has 40 sacks in 40 regular-season games.
A contract extension could be tricky because of Smith's off-field issues. Still, I would think the 49ers will continue to show faith in Smith and will still want him to be around for the long term. The only question is whether both sides decide they want to do something more before the final year of Smith's contract.
If the 49ers wait and Smith continues to stay on the right path off the field, his demand and price tag will go up. It will definitely be something to watch in the offseason.