Aldon Smith on Wednesday pleaded no contest to three felony weapons charges as well as misdemeanor DUI charges in Santa Clara County Superior Court. The 49ers' linebacker must appear again on July 25 when he will be sentenced. The 49ers are expected to report for training camp earlier that week.
The case against Smith, 24, had two parts: DUI charges involving an incident in which he drove his pickup truck through and came to rest in the front yard of a San Jose residence, and weapons charges relating to three semi-automatic rifles found in his bedroom following an out-of-control party in 2012. Smith allegedly purchased some of the guns legally during a 49ers road trip to Arizona but did not register or modify them upon his return to California.
Smith faces anything from probation to four years, four months in prison, which is the maximum sentence for the weapons charges.
"We are aware that Aldon entered a plea today in a case that we have closely monitored," the 49ers' general manager, Trent Baalke, said in a statement. "Today was an important step towards bringing that situation to a resolution. Any further questions concerning today's hearing should be directed to his attorney."
Today's resolution does not include April's incident at Los Angeles International Airport in which Smith allegedly said he had a bomb as he went through security. Witnesses said Smith was acting strangely at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter prior to security, and police suspected he had been drinking. The L.A. City Attorney's office is considering the case and has not filed charges at this time. Smith told CSN Bay Area recently that he looked forward to the truth being revealed through the legal process. "A lot of these things are being painted in a picture that's not true," he told the web site.
Smith, who has 42 sacks in 43 games played with the 49ers, could be suspended by the NFL. That suspension, however, may not be decided upon until after the LAX case is resolved. In October Commissioner Roger Goodell said the six weeks that Smith spent in an alcohol-rehabilitation facility following the recent DUI arrest would factor into any punishment administered by the league. That statement was made before the LAX incident.
The 49ers, meanwhile, recently vowed to stick with Smith, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2011 draft. "We're a family," Baalke said in April. "You just don't open the door and toss people out of it. You continue to work until they leave you no choice." The team bolstered Baalke's words by picking up an option in his contract that will pay Smith $9.75 million next season if he is on the roster in March.
Smith sat out five games last season while attending the alcohol-rehabilitation facility that was recommended by the NFL players' association. The 49ers won all five contests, albeit mostly against teams with losing records, with Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier filling in at right outside linebacker. Both players are back this year. The 49ers also added a draft pick, Aaron Lynch, at the position.
Smith also was arrested for DUI in Miami Beach in January 2012 but was eligible for a reduced sentence of reckless driving. Later that year he was stabbed at the same house party at which the rifles were later found by authorities. In 2013 he said he was the passenger in a car the flipped on a windy road near his home in unincorporated Santa Clara County. Smith suffered a cut above his eye as a result.
-- Matt Barrows