In case you missed it last night, Matt Maiocco reported the San Francisco 49ers were "bracing" for a 6-8 game suspension for outside linebacker Aldon Smith. We've heard speculation across the board on how long this suspension might be, and now Ian Rapoport is in the mix. Rapoport reported this morning that a 49ers source told him the team believes they will be without Smith for 6 games or fewer, and they were hoping for a 4-game suspension.
Given the way Roger Goodell seems to handle suspension under the personal conduct policy, it is hard to figure out exactly what kind of suspension Smith will get. Cam Inman took a look at some of the personal conduct suspensions in recent years. He made the clear point that the team always is going to "brace" for the worst, and hope for the best.
It makes sense then that someone would use the team "bracing" in what they told Matt Maiocco. The team cannot plan on any given amount, so they might as well think the worst might happen, and work from there. I imagine there are some organizations that might pretend the worst won't happen, but given their track record of success, the 49ers generally seem like an organization fairly well prepared.
I still think 4 games makes some sense, but what do I know. One thing I have noticed in discussion about this is a lot of people talking about Aldon Smith's 5-game rehab stint. Some folks seem to be saying that because he was in rehab for five games, there will be some kind of 1-for-1 exchange. They think then that if Aldon gets an 8-game suspension, he would only serve 3. That is not exactly how I expect the 5-game rehab stint to work.
Ray Rice has been suspended two games for domestic violence, but it is worth noting he also is not getting paid. I bring that up strictly to point to the fact that Aldon Smith was reportedly paid his full salary during his 5 games on the NFI list. A player on the NFI list does not need to be paid because any "injuries" resulting in that designation happened away from the team. Roger Goodell has said his five games will be a factor in any potential suspension. My guess is that IF it were a 1-for-1 exchange, there would also be some kind of corresponding fine to make up the difference in game checks. For now, I think we end up seeing around 4 games, and maybe a fine.