Aldon Smith hasn’t been on the football field for the 49ers since Week 3, and there’s no timeline for his return this season. When he is ready to retake the field, though, there shouldn’t be any delay.
Smith checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation facility in late September, just days after his second drunk-driving arrest in two years. The Pro Bowl pass rusher’s decision to seek treatment for himself should help him avoid any further sanctions by the league, according to ESPN.
Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with reporters about Smith’s arrest and the possibility of a suspension during an NFL rally at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday, suggesting that Smith’s willingness to seek treatment will play a role in the final decision.
“Certainly, the issue here isn’t to discipline players. It’s to stop the behavior,” Goodell said. “Aldon has voluntarily said, ‘I need help.’ We’re obviously there to support him, and the 49ers did a great job getting him into a facility to try to get help. We support that.”
Smith’s attention to his alcohol problem may be an encouraging sign for Goodell and the league, but he may still face punishment in connection to his recent felony weapons charges.
The 49ers have still been successful without Smith, boasting a 5-2 record heading into Week 8. Then again, it can’t be easy to replace a guy who’s managed 38 sacks over the first 35 games of his career.
Smith, 24, had 18 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks through three games this season before checking into rehab.