The NFL's director of NFC football communications, Randall Liu, had the news:
49ers Aldon Smith suspended 9 games. Full NFL statement here: pic.twitter.com/cvZfABog45— Randall Liu (@RLiuNFL) August 29, 2014
NFL.com's Albert Breer provided a statement from Smith:
I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the entire 49ers organization and 49ers fans for not being able to contribute on the field for the next several weeks. Over the last year, I have learned a lot and I’m working hard to grow from my experiences. I want to thank my family and friends, my teammates, my union and the 49ers for supporting me during this process. I will be at work daily to participate in all permitted work activities, and to support my teammates, just as they have supported me.
Bay Area News Group's Cam Inman noted the appeal process is over:
As for lighter punishment for Aldon Smith through an appeal, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email "The appeal process is concluded."— Cam Inman (@CamInman) August 29, 2014
Inman had 49ers general manager Trent Baalke's thoughts on the suspension:
#49ers GM Baalke on Aldon Smith 9-game suspension: “Our organization has known this decision would come and we have prepared for it ...— Cam Inman (@CamInman) August 29, 2014
More Baalke on Smith: "Aldon has taken responsibility for his actions and has continued to show growth personally and professionally. ...— Cam Inman (@CamInman) August 29, 2014
Baalke part 3 on Smith "We will continue to support him, but it is time to put this matter behind us and focus on the season ahead.”— Cam Inman (@CamInman) August 29, 2014
ESPN's Ed Werder added a breakdown:
Source says Aldon Smith 9-game suspension broke down this way: 4 games substance-abuse violation, 5 games personal-conduct violations— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) August 29, 2014
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport does have some good news:
Aldon Smith does get to be around the facility for his 9-game suspension, I'm told. That's something the team wanted very badly.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 29, 2014
Smith has a history of off-field issues, which had to factor into him receiving this type of discipline. He was initially tagged with felony gun charges following a party at his home in 2012, where two people were shot and Smith himself was stabbed, per The Associated Press, via ESPN.com.
After his court sentencing, though, Smith's gun charges were dropped to misdemeanors.
Smith also was charged with DUI in 2013 after crashing his car into a tree, with his blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit.
Although he was sentenced to three years' probation and 12 days in jail, Smith was required to serve just one of those days, as the judge permitted him to be on a work crew for the other 11 days.
"In the end, we treated Aldon like any other person in similar circumstances," said Santa Clara County District Attorney Brian Buckelew. "We're optimistic that the punishment will be sufficient to get him on the right track."
That brought some closure to Smith's saga, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league office evidently weren't finished punishing Smith for his transgressions outside the white lines.
In September 2013, Smith took an indefinite leave of absence from the team and entered rehabilitation following his DUI arrest. In April 2014, he was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after being charged with falsely claiming he had a bomb.
John Middlekauff of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area weighed in on Smith's situation, suggesting the young star is out of chances with regard to getting into further trouble:
Bottom line: no more excuses for Aldon Smith. Time to act like a grown up & stay out of trouble moving forward— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) July 18, 2014
After talking with Smith in mid-July, former Niners star cornerback and current NFL Network analyst Eric Davis felt as though Smith was on the proper path:
Had a great talk with Aldon Smith and I think this is a turning point for the kid.— Eric Davis (@_ericdavis_) July 19, 2014
When he finally does return to the Niners' lineup, it will be quite the relief for coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Expectations are high as usual for San Francisco after advancing to the previous three NFC Championship Games, as well as Super Bowl XLVII—without a Lombardi Trophy to show for it.
How do you feel about Aldon Smith's punishment?
NaVorro Bowman tore his ACL and MCL in the conference title loss to the NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks, which already put San Francisco's typically elite defense at risk. Losing another marquee contributor and its top pass-rusher in Smith for a number of games makes sustaining greatness all the more difficult.
The secondary is also thinner than last season, which makes the Niners seemingly as vulnerable as any time since Harbaugh led the franchise to a breakout 2011 campaign.
As long as he can stay out of trouble, Smith will give San Francisco a big boost upon his return. If the Niners can hang tough until then, they may have enough for a strong push toward yet another deep postseason run—and perhaps a Super Bowl title this time around.