is at a personal crossroads, and he'll face it away from the 49ers
facility. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
On Monday, the San Francisco 49ers made an announcement that was not a surprise -- they placed defensive end/linebacker Aldon Smith on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury List. Smith was arrested on Friday morning for suspicion of DUI (his second such arrest in less than two years), but played all the way through the 49ers' 27-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. After the game, team CEO Jed York intimated that the decision to play Smith -- one that met with a lot of resistance around the country -- was financial in nature.
“Our opinion was sitting somebody down and paying them to sit down when they’re going to seek treatment in the future, that didn’t seem like an appropriate punishment. I know it might not sound reasonable. But for Aldon to be able to face the media, face his teammates, and take full responsibility for what he’s doing, we felt that was the best situation for Aldon himself and for the team and ultimately the community at large."
Now, for the sake of all those interests, Smith will be away from the team so that he can try to clean up his life. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on Monday that Smith could be out for a month, and that he could only return to the team when the doctors he's working with clear him.
“I am sorry that I have affected my team, my family and the organization," Smith said in a Monday statement. I will do everything in my power to handle this situation the best way possible. I appreciate the support of the 49ers and our fans.”
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said on Monday that multiple linebackers will take Smith's place in the defensive rotation. Dan Skuta, Ahmad Brooks, and Corey Lemonier are the prime candidates to line up alongside Justin Smith on the right side of a line that has been one of the league's most estimable since the team took Smith in the first round of the 2011 draft out of Missouri. It's a rough time for a team that's 1-2 and looks as vulnerable as it has in the Harbaugh era, and that puts more on the coach.
"Football’s not easy," Harbaugh said Monday. "There are struggles. That’s one of the things you enjoy about the game, that there are struggles. We’ve got some adversity, there’s no question about it. And we’ll also have the rare opportunity of staring adversity in the face and whipping it. That’s our goal.”
Hopefully, Smith can do the same to his personal challenges.