3:30pm: According to Ed Werder of ESPN.com (via Twitter), Smith’s suspension breaks down as four games for violations of substances of abuse and five games for personal conduct violations. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (via Twitter) that the settlement allows Smith to be around the Niners’ facility during the suspension, which is something the team wanted “very badly.”
3:07pm: 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has been suspended for the first nine games of the 2014 season, the NFL announced today (Twitter link via director of NFC football communications Randall Liu). The ban, for violating the league’s policies for substances of abuse and personal conduct, will sideline Smith until mid-November.
A report earlier in August had suggested the Niners were anticipating a suspension ranging from four to eight games for the standout linebacker, so the nine-game penalty is a significant blow for a club with Super Bowl aspirations. In the wake of a two-game suspension for Ray Rice that was perceived as too light, the league has shown little mercy for Josh Gordon or for Smith, who was disciplined for multiple legal run-ins, including DUI and gun charges.
The Niners exercised Smith’s fifth-year option for 2015 earlier in the offseason, suggesting that the club has confidence he can stay out of trouble in the future. Still, that salary isn’t yet fully guaranteed, so the 2014 season represents an audition of sorts for the talented pass rusher — if he performs well again on the field and doesn’t have any off-field issues, he’ll be a strong candidate for an extension in 2015. On the other hand, if he has more troubles with the law, Smith may not have a long-term future in San Francisco.