Sunday morning, Adam Schefter tweeted some thoughts on the 49ers expectations regarding Aldon Smith:
With Aldon Smith in rehab and facing felony charges of possession of assault weapons, 49ers are not counting on him returning this year.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 13, 2013
There has been some chatter about this, but I don't think this kind of information should strike anybody as surprising. As we've heard plenty of times before, Smith has to show "significant progress" before he will be allowed to re-join the team. When Jed York first spoke about Smith's departure, he referred to it as indefinite, with no timetable to return. Vic Fangio was asked whether he expected Aldon to play again this season, and he responded with, "I don't know that yet. I don't know that yet."
Given the nature of rehab, it would be foolish to put together any sort of timetable. And given that, the 49ers would be foolish to count on Aldon Smith returning to help them. Ideally he'll figure things out and be able to contribute this season, but there is nothing to be gained by attempting to anticipate a specific return date.
And that's where Schefter's wording needs to be full considered. He said the 49ers are not "counting on [Smith]" returning this year. It doesn't mean they are not holding out hope he can return, but they are simply planning as if he will not. Anything else is a nice bonus.