NFL Suspends 49ers Linebacker Aldon Smith For 9 Games
That vaunted San Francisco 49ers defense will surely be tested in 2014. Already sure to be without linebacker Navorro Bowman for an extended period of time (knee), the team will now have to get by without stud pass rusher, Aldon Smith.
The league handed down a massive nine-game ban on Friday night, rendering Smith useless to the Niners until week 11 thanks to a week eight bye week for San Francisco. Everyone knew Smith would face some type of league punishment for his constant erratic behavior off the field (violation of both the league’s substance abuse and code of conduct policies), but nine games was a bit of a shocker.
Smith had been a dominant force for the 49ers, racking up over 23 sacks in his first two seasons and nearly tallying 10+ sacks for the third year in a row in 2013. Smith missed five games due to off field issues that year, however, which unfortunately bled into the extra missed time going into 2014.
Not exactly an easy to replace piece of the Niners’ defense, Smith combines with the loss of Bowman and even defensive lineman Glen Dorsey to borderline cripple a once stout San Francisco defense. The 49ers still have a ton of talent and one of the league’s best coaching staffs, but they also still aren’t elite against the pass and now are without some extra pass rushing help.
San Francisco could be tested early and often in 2014, and actually could have their hands quite full when they take a trip to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in week one. With their defense not quite as studly as it has been over the past several seasons, San Francisco may even need to ask more from it’s offense. A sometimes shaky unit a year ago, the 49ers will need much more consistent play from quarterback Colin Kaepernick to help bridge the gap and stay among the elite teams in the NFC.
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