Jim Harbaugh said today the hope among the 49ers is that Aldon Smith, who is currently in an in-patient treatment program, will re-join the team in the next "couple of weeks." That could mean that Smith, who left the team after its Week 3 loss to the Colts, would be back some time during the team's Week 9 bye week, which follows next week's game in London.
"I'm not real knowledgeable on exactly when that's going to be, but I think it's some point in the next couple of weeks," Harbaugh said. "I hear things are going very well." He said Smith's mother attended Sunday's game in Nashville.
Smith entered the treatment program three days after he was arrested for suspicion of DUI. According to authorities, he drove his pickup truck through a residential front yard in San Jose early on Sept. 20. It was his second DUI arrest in as many years, and it added to a long list of off-the-field troubles, which now also includes felony gun possession charges stemming from an out-of-control part in June 2012.
Smith is expected to turn himself into authorities in relation to the gun charges when he gets out of the treatment facility. The Santa Clara District Attorney's offoce said it expects that to occur this month. Smith ostensibly would post bond at that time.
To this point the 49ers have said they weren't sure when Smith, 24, would be back, and some national reports have said the outside linebacker could remain out for the season. Harbaugh's time line - while he kept it a vague - has been the only one to date. "I'm hopeful," he said. "(But) I'm not the definitive source on any announcement there."
Teammates said they've kept in touch with Smith, who still leads the team with 4 1/2 sacks despite his four-game absence, and are eager to have him back. Smith, in fact, texted his concern to defensive end Ray McDonald after McDonald tore his biceps tendon two weeks ago.
"We miss him," McDonald said. "He's a great teammate, a great friend of mine. I'm pretty sure he's coming back a better person than when he left."
-- Matt Barrows