The San Francisco 49ers have two pertinent court dates to deal with when we turn the page to July. Chris Culliver has a July 10 court date for his hit and run case, and Aldon Smith has a July 25 court date for his DUI/weapons possession plea. Culliver is still in the early stages of his situation, while Smith will face his sentencing hearing, having pled no contest to all his charges.
Pro Football Talk is reporting a source told them Smith is not likely to receive jail time, so long as he stays out of trouble over the next month. This is not shocking news, but rather confirms what some of us have felt all along. Smith pled no contest to six charges, and technically he could face up to 4 1/2 years in jail for his various crimes. The Santa Clara ADA said the no contest plea was not part of a plea bargain. While that may be the case, it is also possible for the judge to decide to show a certain measure of leniency. The three weapons possession felonies are wobblers, which means the judge can decide to reduce them to misdemeanors. I think that's what we end up seeing, resulting in probation, maybe some community service, and potentially a fine. This is of course, assuming Aldon does not do anything stupid between now and then. Fingers crossed.
The bigger question for football purposes is whether or not he'll be suspended to start the season. It would seem to be an upset if he was not suspended to start the season, but I also don't expect an extensive suspension. Conceivably Goodell could decide to hand down a 6-game suspension. However, Goodell has also said he will factor in Smith's rehab stint last year. It won't match up game-for-game, but I see that as being enough to lower a suspension to 2-4 games. My guess would be 4, but it's hard to tell for sure.
A suspension opens up a roster spot for the 49ers, but more importantly, it opens the door for Corey Lemonier to show his stuff. I suspect Lemonier and Dan Skuta would split time at outside linebacker, but I think Lemonier ends up moving ahead of Skuta in that role. Lemonier very well could prove to be a long term option if the 49ers decide to replace Ahmad Brooks, or if Aldon Smith proves too expensive (or too much of a knuckle-head) to sign long term. Aaron Lynch could also factor into the mix, but I suspect we see him inactive to start the season.
I think it's safe to say we all want to see Aldon Smith on the field when the season starts, or at least as soon as possible. However, the 49ers have the depth to buy some time while Smith sits out a potential suspension. Corey Lemonier, Dan Skuta, and Aaron Lynch do not have the same all-world talent as Smith, but they can provide a very solid reserve option. And their opportunities could prove quite valuable as the team moves forward, even after Aldon Smith's return.