Aldon Smith's decision to enter a treatment facility -- and the at-least five games he'll miss -- will be considered when it comes to any league discipline for the 49ers outside linebacker, Commissioner Roger Goodell said this morning.
"Certainly," Goodell said following a fan forum at the Landmark Hotel in London "The issue here is not to discipline players. The issue here is to stop the behavior. And Aldon has voluntarily said, 'I need help.' We are obviously there to support him, and the 49ers did a great job getting him into a facility to try to get that help. And so we all support that. So, yes, it will be factor, for sure."
On Friday, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said he expects to meet with Smith, 24, in the "near future." He said the team must be convinced that Smith, who has two DUI arrests since January 2012, has made progress and is on his way to recovery. But the 49ers' hope is that Smith will be able to rejoin the team this season. The 49ers have their bye next week. They host Carolina Nov. 10.
Smith was arrested early on Sept. 20 after crashing his truck into a tree in a residential front yard in San Jose. He was at practice later that day and on the playing field two days later in a loss to the Colts. He played every defensive snap.
Asked if he agreed with the decision - widely criticized - to allow Smith to play in that game, Goodell said he had no choice. "We've made a couple of proposals to our union that we should take quicker action," he said of the NFL Players' Association. "But they've resisted that. ... . So that's something we weren't in position to be able to do."
Said Baalke on Friday : "The decision we made was the decision we felt was in the best interest of the young man. Those can be, and obviously have been, questioned by many. But our ultimate goal hasn't changed, and that's to help Aldon get back to a place where he feels very comfortable and can move forward in a very positive manner."
In addition to the DUI issue, Smith also faces three felony gun possession charges stemming from an out-of-control party at his house in June 2012. Smith is expected to answer to those charges shortly. He also could receive league discipline in connection to that issue, but the NFL is unlikely to act until the case has been adjudicated.
Smith, voted the team's MVP last year, was leading the 49ers with 4 ½ sacks when he left the squad after Week 3. He still leads the team in that category heading into Week 8. The 49ers have won all four games that Smith has missed.
-- Matt Barrows