NFL

NFL Suspends 49ers’ LB Aldon Smith Nine Games

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Vincent Frank
Written by Vincent Frank

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has been suspended for the first nine games of the 2014 season by the National Football League. A suspension of this magnitude has long been expected and it will impact San Francisco’s early-season success a great deal. 

Smith’s off-field issues began back in 2012 when he was arrested for possession of an illegal firerm after shooting a gun into the air during a spat at a party in San Jose, California. He was then arrested on suspicion of a DUI prior to the 49ers Week 3 game against the Indianapolis Colts last September.

The all-world pass rusher was sentenced to 11 days in a work program and three years probation after pleading no contest to three assault weapons charges and two DUI charges back in July.

With Smith out of the mix for the first nine games of the regular season, the 49ers find themselves uncharacteristically thin at linebacker. NaVorro Bowman, who suffered a catastrophic knee injury in the NFC Championship game this past January, will likely miss a good portion of the regular year.

Smith, who has recorded a whopping 42 tackles in 43 career games, admitted himself into alcohol rehabilitation after his DUI arrest last September. While it appears that he’s sober and in tip-top condition, one more off-field incident could spell doom for his NFL career moving forward. He was most recently detained at Los Angeles International Airport earlier this offseason after officials concluded he made a false bomb threat. No charges were filed in that incident.

The 49ers, who picked up the $9.7 million option on Smith’s contract for the 2015 season, will likely rely on talented youngster Corey Lemonier to fill his spot in the starting lineup. Lemonier, a third-round pick out of Auburn back in 2013, was impressive in limited playing time as a rookie.

Considering that Smith himself has stood out in 49ers’ camp thus far, they can expect him to return to the impact player that he has been in the first three years in the league when he is able to return to the team in Week 11. At that point, San Francisco should be in a good position for the stretch run during that promises to be a difficult slate of games.

Unlike the Ray Rice situation, it appears the NFL got this right. Smith has a history of off-field incidents and needed to face discipline from the league. A nine game suspension made perfect sense.

Photo: USA Today

About the author

Vincent Frank

Vincent Frank

Editor-at-large, Sportsnaut.

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” Rumi