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Aldon Smith suspended 9 games for violating personal conduct policy

The NFL finally announced Aldon Smith's suspension. The San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker will have to sit 9 games.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Aldon Smith faced the music today, when the NFL announced a 9-game suspension for the San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker. The suspension comes under a combination of the personal conduct policy, and the substance abuse policy. Smith is eligible to return to the roster on Monday, November 10. The San Francisco 49ers star pass-rusher met with NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell in New York on August 7 regarding a possible suspension because of several off-field issues. Clearly the NFL decided to come down hard on this one.

Smith has been a star in training camp. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Smith is "at the highest level" of his position. Smith already has 42 sacks in 43 regular-season games. It had been reported the 49ers were preparing for a possible 6-8 game suspension, but later the suspension was estimated by many to be around 4 games.

The league's suspension decision allows the team to move forward with the 2014 season. With Smith on the Reserve/Suspended list, it means Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta would likely be the candidates to rotate into his role. It is possible Lemonier shows enough to secure the role for himself, but it is likely the team will handle the situation similar to what they did last year with Skuta getting base down work, and Lemonier getting nickel work. .

Aaron Lynch has the talent to be a great reserve pass rusher, and at this point, even if Smith was not suspended, there is no reason to think he does not make the roster. With his own past issues off the field, it is hoped he can remain focused and productive. Lynch remains an interesting long term option.

Smith's suspension is the first since the league announced its new policy regarding domestic violence and sexual assault. The new policy came in response to the commissioner's poor handling of Ray Rice's suspension for domestic violence. The new policy is intended to cover assault, battery, domestic violence, and sexual assault. The commissioner mentioned in the letter that he wanted stricter punishment for DUIs, but he blames the NFLPA for that not getting done.