NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Aldon Smith, who is in an in-patient treatment program, could rejoin the team in the next "couple of weeks," according to coach Jim Harbaugh.
If Harbaugh's timetable is accurate, Smith, who left the team after its Week 3 loss to Indianapolis, would return during the Week 9 bye, which follows this week's game in London.
"I'm not real knowledgeable on exactly when that's going to be, but I think it's some point in the next couple of weeks," Harbaugh said. "I hear things are going very well."
He said Smith's mother attended Sunday's game in Nashville.
Smith entered the treatment program three days after he was arrested for suspicion of DUI on Sept. 20. According to authorities, he drove his pickup truck through a residential front yard in San Jose and struck a tree. It was his second DUI arrest in as many years, and it added to a long list of off-the-field troubles, which include felony gun possession charges stemming from an out-of-control party in June 2012.
Smith is expected to turn himself in to authorities for the gun charges when he's released from the treatment facility. The Santa Clara District Attorney's office said it expects that to occur later this month.
Smith ostensibly would post bond at that time.
Until Sunday, the 49ers haven't indicated when Smith, 24, would be back. Some national reports have said the outside linebacker could remain out for the season. Harbaugh's timeline – while he purposefully kept it vague – is the only one to date.
"I'm hopeful," he said of Smith playing again this season. "(But) I'm not the definitive source on any announcement there."
Teammates said they've kept in touch with Smith, who still leads the team with 4 1/2 sacks despite his four-game absence, and are eager to have him back. Smith, in fact, texted well wishes to defensive end Ray McDonald after McDonald tore his biceps tendon two weeks ago.
"We miss him," McDonald said. "He's a great teammate, a great friend of mine. I'm pretty sure he's coming back a better person than when he left."
Next stop, London – The 49ers will spend the week in what has become their English country home – The Grove resort in Watford, Hertfordshire, north of London. The team spent the week there before beating Denver 24-16 at Wembley Stadium in 2010.
The 49ers left Nashville on Sunday night and were scheduled to arrive in London around 1 p.m. local time today. As was the case in 2010, they have a media event with the Tottenham Hotspur football club where they will meet Tottenham players and hold drills with local children.
From there, they head to The Grove.
"We've done it before," left tackle Joe Staley said. "This is our second trip to London, and we also went to Youngstown (Ohio) for a week, too. Everyone here is used to long trips, and I think it's beneficial."
The 49ers have had a week-long stay in Youngstown each of the past two seasons, and they are 2-0 in the game that follows that trip.
Biceps is better – McDonald, who said he struggled with right-arm strength last week against Arizona, said his arm felt "a thousand times better" Sunday against Tennessee.
McDonald finished the Cardinals game without a tackle. Sunday, he had a tackle and a quarterback hit on the Titans' Jake Locker.
He tore one of the bicep tendons that attach the muscle to the shoulder in Week 5 against the Texans, and he has spent time in the weight room trying to regain strength.
"Anytime you have an injury, you have to retrain your muscles to fire," he said. "Because it shuts down anytime you tear something."
Et cetera – For a short stretch in the second half, the 49ers were without starting safeties Donte Whitner (knee) and Eric Reid (ankle). Neither suffered what is considered to be a long-term injury, and Reid re-entered the game.
Rookie defensive lineman Quinton Dial, added to the 53-man roster Tuesday, entered the game in the third quarter as the team's left defensive end. Dial seemed poised to see action at nose tackle, but starter Glenn Dorsey's injured hamstring recovered enough during the week to allow him to start against the Titans.
Defensive end Justin Smith entered the game with a half sack. He had two against Tennessee in addition to two other quarterback hits.