SAN FRANCISCO — Outside linebacker Aldon Smith played virtually every defensive snap for the 49ers on Sunday. His toughest assignment may have come after the game, when he stood in front of his locker and delivered the following message to a phalanx of reporters:
“First off I wanted to apologize to the team, the organization, my family and everybody I let down. I also wanted to let it be known that this is a problem and it's something that I will get fixed, and that I'll do everything in my power to make sure that this never happens again.”
Smith did not field questions, but a little while later 49ers CEO Jed York confirmed rumors that had been swirling throughout the day. The star pass rusher will be removed from the team for a while — the 49ers did not call it a suspension, saying that Smith will “take an indefinite leave” — in the wake of his DUI arrest in San Jose early Friday. News outlets were reporting that Smith would enter a drug-and-alcohol rehab facility.
York said there is no timetable on Smith's return, though he said the linebacker will miss Thursday's game at St. Louis.
“This is a long-term fix,” York said. “We support Aldon if Aldon is willing to fight for himself and try to make this right
The 49ers took heavy flak after deciding to let Smith play Sunday. This is his second DUI since coming to San Francisco in the 2011 draft, and he was also stabbed during a party at his house last offseason. Police found Smith behind the wheel of his car at 7 a.m. Friday, his engine running and the front end of his vehicle smashed into a tree.
Last year, the 49ers left defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs home when the team traveled to St. Louis, following his arrest for DUI and marijuana charges. Double standard or not, Smith played extensively Sunday, making little impact in the first half but finishing with five tackles. The Niners' defense will definitely suffer without him.