The 49ers expect Commissioner Roger Goodell to decide on a punishment for outside linebacker Aldon Smith before the regular season and perhaps before the team’s Aug. 7 preseason opener at Baltimore.
“It’s not something that’s going to drag into the season,” general manager Trent Baalke said Saturday. “And it may not even drag as far as into the preseason games itself. It’s something that’s going to be addressed. We’ve been in contact with the league. The league has been in contact with us. But we don’t have a set date at this moment.”
The first step will be a meeting between Smith, who was sentenced this month to 12 days on a work crew after pleading no contest to DUI and weapons violations, and Goodell in New York. That meeting could occur this week with Goodell’s ruling coming shortly thereafter.
Baalke said owner Jed York has spoken with Goodell, but the 49ers don’t know what Smith’s punishment will entail.
After his September DUI arrest in San Jose, Smith missed six weeks of the 2013 season after checking into an alcohol treatment facility. Goodell has said that stint will be factored into any punishment.
If Smith is suspended, the 49ers are likely to use the same rotation of Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier that was effective during his absence last season.
Butterfly effect – While the rest of the team was practicing special teams Saturday, the quarterbacks took turns trying to arc long passes into what is best described as an oversized butterfly net.
It was a net with about a 21/2-foot diameter opening that was on the end of a 6-foot post. It was stationed at the corner of the 5-yard line and the sideline. The quarterbacks were about 40 yards away in the center of the field, and the objective was – well – to put one through the hoop.
Rookie Kory Faulkner had the best attempt when he hit the rim. No one put it through. Colin Kaepernick came close on one of his dozen or so attempts by hitting the stand. McLeod Bethel-Thompson hit the stand twice. Even coach Jim Harbaugh gave it one attempt but was well short.
Overall, it was a strong day for the quarterbacks. Blaine Gabbert has been efficient over the first three days of training camp, and Bethel-Thompson took a lot of snaps Saturday and made the most of them. The Sacramento State product hit receivers Stevie Johnson and Chuck Jacobs on two straight attempts and finished 6 of 8 in team situations for the afternoon.
Ellington close – Fourth-round draft pick Bruce Ellington (ankle) has been participating in morning walk-through sessions but not the full afternoon practices. The wide receiver, however, practiced fielding punts on a side field and looks close to practicing in full.