SANTA CLARA, Calif.– The San Francisco 49ers have been preparing for months to play on without Aldon Smith over an extended period.
Now they know the exact time frame: He is suspended for more than half the season.
The standout linebacker received a nine-game penalty from the league Friday stemming from a series of off-the-field legal issues.
A statement from the NFL said Smith had violated its substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies.
Smith won’t be eligible to return until Nov. 10, the day after the 49ers’ game against the New Orleans Saints.
“Our organization has known this decision would come and we have prepared for it as a team,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “Aldon has taken responsibility for his actions and has continued to show growth personally and professionally. We will continue to support him, but it is time to put this matter behind us and focus on the season ahead.”
Smith, 24, one of the league’s top pass rushers, missed five games last season to undergo treatment at an inpatient facility after his DUI arrest Sept. 20.
Shortly before training camp began last month, Smith was sentenced to serve three years of probation and to spend 11 days with a work crew after he pleaded no contest to DUI and weapons charges.
He has repeatedly said he has been sober since his DUI arrest in September. The team has picked up his 2015 contract option.
The 49ers, who lost to the Super Bowl-champion Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game, also are without injured All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman for at least half the season as he recovers from a left-knee injury.
Green-Ellis is cut by Bengals
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was released by the Cincinnati Bengals, as some teams started to trim their rosters to get down to the mandatory 53 players by 1 p.m. PDT Saturday.
Green-Ellis was Cincinnati’s top rusher the past two seasons, but he seemingly was made expendable once the Bengals drafted Louisiana State’s Jeremy Hill in the second round in May.
Green-Ellis, who ran for 756 yards and a career-low 3.4 yards per carry last season, was entering the final year of his contract.
Also among the announced cuts were Buffalo punter Brian Moorman and quarterback Jordan Palmer; Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth; Atlanta linebacker Pat Angerer; and Chicago running back Jordan Lynch, a former Heisman Trophy finalist as a quarterback at Northern Illinois.