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September 20, 2013
Harbaugh: Aldon Smith will play against Colts


Aldon Smith not only was on the practice field mere hours after being released from county jail Friday, Jim Harbaugh said he expects the 49ers outside linebacker to play Sunday against the Colts. Smith is listed as probable with a back injury on the team's injury report this week.

Harbaugh spent his Friday media session parrying reporters' questions about Smith's status. At first he said the team had not decided what would happen to the linebacker, who was arrested at 7 a.m. for suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession. Smith drove his car through a residential front yard where it became pinned against a tree.

Later Harbaugh said, "I expect Aldon, like today, he'll be back to work and playing on Sunday."

Last year, defensive end Demarcus Dobbs also was involved in a single-car accident the Friday before a game. Like Smith, Dobbs was arrested for suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession. Dobbs did not make the trip to St. Louis that weekend.

Asked why Smith's case was treated differently, Harbaugh said, "Demarcus wasn't here last year when we left for St. Louis." Pressed on why, if that were true, Dobbs couldn't have taken a later flight, Harbaugh said, "Like I said, I'm not going into specifics and the dissecting of what the policies are. If you want to question those, so be it."

Harbaugh said it also would be left up to the league, and not the team, to suspend Smith. "That's pretty exclusive to the league," he said. "Well, it is. They have exclusive rights to the consequences. And there will be consequences. There always is, good or bad. We all have consequences."

Teams, however, can suspend players for conduct detrimental to the team. Last year, for example, the 49ers suspended running back Brandon Jacobs for the final three games of the season.

Meanwhile, more details have surfaced about the accident. Smith appears to have driven off the road this morning and into a residential yard where his vehicle became pinned against a tree. According to a neighbor, who declined to be identified, Smith continued to press against the accelerator for a period of time, causing the tires to spin and smoke.

Defensive end Ray McDonald, who lives in the area, said that he "rolled by" to check on Smith.

Some of Smith's teammates downplayed Smith's arrest, his second DUI arrest since January 2012. "He's got his head on straight," defensive end Justin Smith said. "I think sometimes stuff just happens. If everybody went looking through everybody's past, you'd find some stuff on everybody, even the people asking the questions. So, not concerned."

Said Vernon Davis: "It definitely caught me by surprise. Aldon -- he was doing a pretty good job as far as just staying of trouible and things like that. He's a young guy. So, just like every young guy who comes in here, you go through a phase in your life.

"I always say that the things that you go through can definitely help you, make you a better man," Davis continued. "I just leave it up to the organization as far as discipline and those kind of things."

-- Matt Barows


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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