The 49ers welcomed linebacker Aldon Smith back this week after a stay in substance abuse treatment triggered by a September arrest for driving under the influence, a return that was preceded by conversations with league officials that included Smith promising that he would make sure that the off-field issues that led him to rehab would never happen again.
Smith said he missed the team but thought it was good for him to get away and focus on the problems that led to a car accident that could have turned out much worse for Smith or others. Several teammates said they thought Smith looked like he was in good shape and ready to pick up where he left off on the field, leading to questions about whether Smith would be in the lineup for this week’s game against the Panthers.
Smith admitted to thinking about it as well, but said that there’s been no decision on that front yet.
“You know, it’s crossing my mind,” Smith said, via Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “I’m just taking it one day at a time, getting back here, being around the guys and just getting my life back at home. I’ve got a 10-month-old son, so I’m doing the father thing. I’m just trying to make sure I’m all ready to go.”
Smith still faces arraignments later this month on the DUI charge and separate felony gun charges, so the off-field issues aren’t just going to disappear into thin air. But the Niners brought him back to the team so that he could help the defense so it seems a good bet that he’ll be on the field on Sundays sooner rather than later.