There has still yet to be an announcement on Aldon Smith's suspension, but what seems clear to all concerned is that the 49ers are going to be without their star pass-rusher for a few games this season.
Per Maiocco, the 49ers are bracing for a six- to eight-game suspension for Smith from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after the outside linebacker was sentenced to 12 days in a county jail with a one-day credit, a sentence that can be served with a work crew, for three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon and two misdemeanor counts of DUI.
A suspension of that length would come as a particular blow to the 49ers considering how well Smith has been performing in training camp.
According to Branch, Smith has been drawing plaudits from all corners during camp, with Harbaugh hailing the ex-Missouri star for taking his game to "the highest level." Ravens coach John Harbaugh and left tackle Eugene Monroe were also glowing in their praise of Smith during the joint practices between the two teams.
San Francisco can afford to be excited at the prospect of Smith being back to the kind of level that saw him lead the NFL with 19.5 sacks in 2012. However, the downside is they may have to wait some time for the 24-year-old to get onto the field in 2014.
During Smith's five-game absence last season the 49ers went undefeated, with Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier helping San Francisco succeed even without the services of their top pass-rusher.
But with Smith in seemingly dominant form heading into the new campaign, it remains to be seen whether that duo can make the same impact in 2014.
Lemonier, ranked as the most efficient rookie edge-rusher in the league in 2013 by PFF, appears to have the best shot of compensating for Smith's likely spell on the sidelines. The former Auburn man had a sack to his name in the preseason opener and, according to The San Jose Mercury News' Cam Inman, looks in better shape physically as he heads into his sophomore year.
Skuta, meanwhile, was disappointing and failed to produce anything of real note in Baltimore, registering one tackle in 30 defensive snaps, per PFF.
With the 49ers having virtually overhauled their secondary in the offseason, the pass rush figures to be even more important for a defense that has ranked in the league's top five in each of the last three seasons.
Smith is an all likelihood going to be reduced to the role of spectator for a large portion of the season and, if San Francisco is to have a successful defense again in 2014, at least one player among Lemonier, Skuta or rookie fifth-round pick Aaron Lynch needs to step up and make sure the Niners have a solution for when he is on the sidelines.