Aldon Smith is back in the 49ers’ club house! After a 5-week stint in a rehab facility, Aldon Smith has found himself a new man. In the words of Jim Harbaugh, he is living “day-to-day” and Aldon approaches each day with “the goal to have a great day.” As long as having a “great day” no longer includes abusing substances, it seems that the incredible talented pass rusher may soon find his way back on to the field. However, both Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke cautioned against any expectations.
The 49ers have been playing quite well without their Pro-bowl outside linebacker. Corey Lemonier has stepped up big time for the Cardinal and Gold. With Aldon Smith set to report to court on November 4 and November 12 for drunk driving and felony weapon charges, respectively, it makes sense for the 49ers’ front office and coaching staff to proceed with caution. After all, it is a person’s life they are dealing with, not simply a football player. With the backlash they received for (sensibly) letting Smith play against the Colts, public relations would also be against a quick return to the field.
Jim Harbaugh, however, has never cared too much for PR. He would rather do right by his players. I expect him to do this with Aldon Smith. Will he return this season? Probably, but only when he appears to be ready. The last thing the 49ers want is a relapse. Perhaps Smith will be suspended—though it appears Roger Goodell may declare “time served”—or maybe he will be required to do more remediation by the courts, but he has the backing of the 49ers’ brass—even if he has to re-earn a long-term contract.