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September 22, 2013
Aldon Smith admits he has a problem, will miss next game at least

aldonface.jpg

Aldon Smith will miss Thursday's game in St. Louis as he seeks help for a "problem," both he and team owner Jed York said after today's 27-7 loss to the Colts.

After the game, Smith, who crashed his car Friday morning and who was arrested for DUI, made a brief appearance. "First off I wanted to apologize to the team, the organization, my family, everybody I let down," he said. "You know, I also want to let it be known that this is a problem. It's something I will get fixed. I'll do everything in my power to make sure this never happens again. I also want to let everybody know that, once again, I'm sorry. Like I said, this won't happen again."

York then spoke, confirming that Smith, an All-Pro linebacker with 19 ½ sacks last season, will miss Thursday's game.

"We're very fortunate that nobody got hurt, Aldon included and anybody else, and we want to make sure that Aldon's never in a position like this again," York said. He said Smith's leave of absence would be indefinite.

Asked if it was fair to say Smith, who also had a DUI arrest last year, would seek treatment and counseling, York said, "Again, that's Aldon's personal issue. We're going to support him and I believe Aldon wants to tackle this problem. And we're going to do everything we can to help him."

Smith played nearly every defensive snap against the Colts, and he finished the game with five tackles, including one for a loss. Why didn't he start addressing his problem earlier? Why did he play today?

"We thought it was the best decision for Aldon, and for him and his future and to make progress and to get better," York said. Later he said benching Smith didn't make sense.

"Sitting someone down and paying them to sit down when they're going to seek treatment in the future - that didn't seem like an appropriate punishment," York said. "I know it might not sound reasonable. But for Aldon to be able to face the media, face his team and take full responsibility for what he's doing - we felt that was the best situation for Aldon himself and for the team and ultimately for the community at large. A lot of people might not agree with that decision, but that's the decision we felt was best."

Because this is Smith's second arrest, the NFL is likely to suspend him at some point, perhaps next season when the case has been adjudicated. "We're not worried about that," York said of the suspension. "We're not trying to circumvent what the NFL will do. This is about making sure Aldon has the opportunity to work on something, get better."

With Smith out, look for rookie Corey Lemonier and veteran Dan Skuta to play against the Rams.

-- Matt Barrows



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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