The nine-game suspension for San Francisco 49ers pass rusher Aldon Smith wasn't reduced to allow him to play Sunday, as many expected. The reason, according to two league sources, is that while Smith did more than mandated in terms of community service, he did not fulfill the obligations assigned him in terms of his counseling protocol.
Smith was suspended for violating both the personal conduct policy and the substance-abuse policy.
Smith's agent, Doug Hendrickson, disputed that, saying: "He upheld all requirements."
The NFLPA echoed Hendrickson's comment.
"Aldon fulfilled all of his obligations to be considered to return from his suspension early. The NFL chose not to make that decision," spokesman George Atallah said in a release.
The 49ers have their worst midseason record under Jim Harbaugh (4-4) and will be playing the only quarterback in league history with multiple 5,000-yard passing seasons without their three top linebackers: Smith and NaVorro Bowman have not played this season and Patrick Willis is out with a toe injury.
Smith has 42 sacks in 43 career NFL games and ranks second to Jared Allen in compiling sacks the past three seasons. Brees has said that the Niners have proven capable of pressuring quarterbacks and being disruptive but they're not as fearsome without Smith.