- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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His status: Star San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith checked into an alcohol treatment center Monday. He was arrested three days earlier for drunk driving. It was his second such arrest in less than two years.
Timeline: Smith will not be ready to leave treatment until physicians declare him ready. Often, such treatment takes about four weeks. Then, he’d have to get conditioned back to football shape. The 49ers leave for London after playing at Tennessee on Oct. 20. That is 27 days after Smith checked into treatment. In the best-case scenario, perhaps he could join the team for an Oct. 27 game against Jacksonville in England. But the more likely scenario, assuming all goes well in treatment, is Smith joins the team after it returns from London for the bye week and is ready to play Nov. 10 against Carolina. Smith’s first court date on his DUI charge is Nov. 4. Smith is likely facing about a two-game NFL suspension if convicted on the charge. It is not out of the question he serves the suspension next season.
Financially speaking: CSN Bay Area reported during the week that the 49ers have opted to pay Smith while he is on the reserve/Non-Football Illness list. Paying Smith was the team’s choice. His weekly paycheck is about $99,000. It is an act of good faith by the organization, which has vowed to support its star during this troubling time. As for a contract extension, that probably will have to wait, at least, a year as Smith will likely have to show the franchise he can be trusted on a long-term basis.
The team without him: Promising rookie Corey Lemonier and veteran Dan Skuta took the place of Smith, who has 4.5 sacks this season and an NFL-high 38.5 sacks since 2011, in a 35-11 win over St. Louis. San Francisco had five sacks and it played brilliant defense without both Smith and star inside linebacker Patrick Willis, who was out with a groin injury.
Bottom line: Smith has to get healthy. All involved are in agreement -- his personal well being is paramount at this point and we won’t see him in uniform until it is determined he is on the road to recovery.
4hField Yates and Rich Cimini