SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith expects to sit down with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "in the near future" to discuss any potential suspension for his off-field issues.
Smith was sentenced last Friday to serve three years of probation and to spend 11 days with a work crew after he pleaded no contest to drunken driving and weapons charges. Smith said he hasn’t had time to begin the work yet, and will do so as his time permits.
Of the ruling, Smith said he is "glad how it worked out." He didn’t want to guess whether he would face a suspension from the league, and said he is unsure whether Ravens running back Ray Rice’s two-game penalty Thursday for his off-season arrest for domestic violence provides any indication.
"I’m glad it’s behind me. I’m ready to move on. … I’ve never been in this situation so I’m not going to speculate," Smith said of possible punishment. "I know I’m meeting with him in the near future — as soon as possible. We don’t have a solid date, so I’m not sure."
Smith said he has been sober since entering rehab last year following his Sept. 20 DUI arrest. He underwent treatment at an in-patient facility and missed five games. Coach Jim Harbaugh was asked Thursday whether he thought the NFL might take the rehab stint into account as time served.
"Going through a process, which is, there’s accountability for some mistakes made. And also he’s been given the opportunity to do what he says he’s going to do. So far he’s doing that," Harbaugh said. "That’s in their hands. They will discipline if they warrant it."
Tight end Vernon Davis said before the team’s first practice that his desire for a new contract is no longer a focus and he will leave that to the team and his agent to discuss.
"That’s in the past, I’m not really worried about the contract," he said. "That’s between the team and my agent. That’s not my focus right now. My focus is out here, trying to get better."
Of being fined up to $70,000 for missing the mandatory minicamp last month, Davis said, "I’m sure they did, absolutely."
So, why did he sit out the off-season program with two years remaining on his current deal?
"It was a very easy decision. All you have to do is think about the team," Davis said. "That’s what I did. I thought about my teammates, especially some of the guys like Frank Gore, guys that they’re on the last end of their contract. There’s nothing like being here."
For Smith, he hopes 2014 is a fresh start — and he insists he is in the best shape ever entering his fourth NFL season.
In his latest run-in with the law, Smith was arrested April 13 at Los Angeles International Airport. Police said the 24-year-old Smith was randomly selected for a secondary screening and became unco-operative with the process, telling a TSA agent that he had a bomb.
In November, he pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, stemming from a June 2012 party at his home. Investigators said several shots were fired, two partygoers were injured and Smith was stabbed. In the subsequent investigation, prosecutors say detectives found five unregistered, illegal weapons in Smith’s house.
Yet, what Smith brings on the field makes him one of the NFL’s best at pressuring quarterbacks.
Smith emerged as one of the league’s most-feared pass rushers in 2012. He had a franchise-record 19 1/2 sacks that year, but failed to record a sack in his final six games including the team’s post-season Super Bowl run.
Smith finished with 8 1/2 sacks and 34 tackles in 11 games last season, making eight starts. His 42 sacks are second-most in the NFL since he entered the league.
Harbaugh, for one, is only thinking about another year and another opportunity for success after three straight seasons coming oh so close.
"It’s like it’s your own birthday. It’s a family reunion. It’s like a rebirth, feel like you come out of the womb and reborn into football," Harbaugh said in his first news conference at new Levi’s Stadium. "And definitely having Vernon there added to that. Everybody sees their friends, sees their family, haven’t seen them for a month or so as we’ve been apart after the minicamp. …
"Our team is the least unhappy team I’ve ever been around."
NOTES: Rookie first-round pick S Jimmie Ward made a diving interception on a tipped pass by Colin Kaepernick. "If I keep making plays like that I’m going to be seen," Ward said.