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Aldon Smith

Willingness to get treatment could help cause of 49ers' Smith

Published: Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 9C

LONDON – Aldon Smith's decision to enter a treatment facility – and the minimum five games he'll miss – will be considered when it comes to league discipline for the 49ers outside linebacker, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Saturday.

"Certainly," Goodell said following a fan forum at the Landmark Hotel in London. "The issue here is not to discipline players. The issue here is to stop the behavior. And Aldon has voluntarily said, 'I need help.'

"We are obviously there to support him, and the 49ers did a great job getting him into a facility to try to get that help. And so we all support that. So, yes, it will be a factor, for sure."

On Friday, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said he expects to meet with Smith, 24, in the "near future." Baalke said the team must be convinced that Smith, who has two DUI arrests since January 2012, has made progress and is on his way to recovery. The 49ers hope Smith will be able to rejoin the team this season. They have a bye next week, then host Carolina on Nov. 10.

Smith was arrested early Sept. 20 after crashing his truck into a tree in a front yard in San Jose. He was at practice later that day and played every defensive snap two days later in a loss to the Colts.

"We've made a couple of proposals to our union that we should take quicker action," Goodell said of the National Football League Players Association when asked if he agreed with the widely criticized decision to allow Smith to play. "But they've resisted that. … So that's something we weren't in position to be able to do."

Said Baalke on Friday: "The decision we made was the decision we felt was in the best interest of the young man. Those can be, and obviously have been, questioned by many. But our ultimate goal hasn't changed, and that's to help Aldon get back to a place where he feels very comfortable and can move forward in a very positive manner."

In addition to the DUI charge, Smith faces three felony gun possession charges stemming from an out-of-control party at his house in June 2012.

Smith is expected to answer to those charges shortly. He also could receive league discipline in connection with that issue, but the NFL is unlikely to act until the case has been adjudicated.

Smith, voted the team's MVP last season, was leading the 49ers with 4 1/2 sacks when he left after Week 3, and he still leads the team.

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MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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