The 49ers activated All-Pro outside linebacker Aldon Smith off the non-football illness list Thursday, one day after he met with coach Jim Harbaugh. The 49ers had to activate Smith upon his release from the treatment facility as part of the NFI rule that allows him to return this season, a league spokesman told CSNBayArea.com. But the 49ers could ask for a one-week roster exemption for Smith so that he would not count against the 53-player roster limit.
Smith will practice with the 49ers next week and is expected to be available for the 49ers’ next game, Nov. 10 against the Carolina Panthers at Candlestick Park. Smith missed five games after voluntarily entering treatment for substance abuse on Sept. 23 – one day after playing against the Indianapolis Colts and three days following his arrest on DUI charges.
Smith, 24, turned himself into authorities Tuesday night and posted $75,000 bail, a source told NBC Bay Area, after he was charged with two felonies for illegal possession of firearms on Oct. 9. Because he was in treatment at the time charges were filed, he agreed to turn himself in after his completion in the program.
Smith is scheduled to appear in court to face the weapons charges on Nov. 12 and misdemeanor DUI charges on Nov. 19.
On Wednesday, Smith met with 49ers coaches and team officials at the club’s Santa Clara practice facility.
“Aldon was in the building,” Harbaugh said on 95.7 The Game. “It was great to see the reaction of others who saw him and Aldon’s reaction of being back here with some of the guys. He looks great, and we’re having a good day.
“I mean that was the object of today, let’s have a great day. I think that’s the way Aldon’s approaching things, each day, too. The goal to have a great day.”
General manager Trent Baalke said last week that Smith had to demonstrate “progress” in order to return to the 49ers this season.
There was never a timetable placed on Smith’s return, but Harbaugh on Wednesday said Smith had made “quite a bit of progress."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the time Smith spent -- and the games he missed -- while voluntarily receiving treatment the facility for substance abuse will be factored into any possible punishment Smith faces.
“The issue here is not to discipline players," Goodell said. "The issue here is to stop the behavior. And Aldon, to your point, has voluntarily said, ‘I need help.’ We are obviously there to support him, and the 49ers did a great job getting him into a facility to try to get that help. And so we all support that. So, yes, it will be factor, for sure.”
- Matt Maiocco, CSN Bay Area