Aldon Smith Leaves 49ers at Worst Possible Time

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Aldon Smith Leaves 49ers at Worst Possible Time
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San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith will miss at least a month after checking into a rehab facility, according to Ian Rapoport of

Rapoport tweeted on Monday:

A source told Ed Werder of ESPN on Tuesday that Smith may miss more than a month:

Smith, who was arrested for his second DUI in two years last week, was playing exceptional football this season before the incident. Obviously, checking into a facility was something he needed to do, and matters like these are far more important than a game of football, but it doesn't change the fact that the 49ers have had a miserable start to the 2013 campaign as a team.

Since Week 1, it's been a long string of bad news for the 49ers. They got embarrassed by the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2, then got outclassed by the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3. Now they lose one of their top pass-rushers as they get set for the St. Louis Rams, who gave them trouble in 2012.

Oh yeah, and Colin Kaepernick—that guy who tore apart defenses in 2012—looks like an ordinary quarterback with an inaccurate arm and questionable decision-making skills. He ranks 27th in completion percentage and he's tossed three touchdowns to four interceptions so far.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

This is by far the biggest test in Jim Harbaugh's young NFL coaching career. It would be amiss to say it was smooth-sailing the first two years, but there was always that feeling—especially last season—that the 49ers were a force to be reckoned with. That's not the case this season.

On top of that, Harbaugh is dealing with some serious off-the-field issues for the first time. It's not like he hasn't dealt with off-the-field issues before in his coaching career, but this is at the NFL level, where everything is put under a microscope, at a time when the team is in danger of unraveling.

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This season may be the greatest indicator of Harbaugh's potential longevity in the National Football League. We've seen plenty of great coaches throughout the years, but it's tough to be a coach in this league for a long time, no matter how brilliant you are. The expectations are enormous, the pressure is intense and the clubhouse needs constant monitoring.

Harbaugh's intensity has been a blessing for the 49ers franchise, but it can also bring a coach down over time. It's all about managing your emotions. After two highly successful seasons, what happens if this season doesn't go according to plan for Harbaugh?

It's only been three weeks and I can already see the wheels turning in Harbaugh's head. Losing a player of Aldon Smith's caliber for an indefinite period of time certainly doesn't help matters.

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