SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers are prepared to go forward without star linebacker Aldon Smith for as long as it takes for him to get clean, healthy and improve his life.
Smith was placed on the reserve non-football injury list Monday as he enters rehab for substance abuse and begins what team CEO Jed York termed an indefinite absence.
“I am taking a leave of absence to address my health,” Smith said through the 49ers. “I am sorry that I have affected my team, my family and the organization.”
The NFL said there is no minimum number of games Smith must miss on the reserve non-football injury list, and he can return when ready.
On whether he expects Smith to return this season, coach Jim Harbaugh said only, “there’s a process; we’re going to respect that process.”
Smith played Sunday and had five tackles just two days after he was arrested and jailed on suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession. Smith apologized after the 27-7 loss to the Colts, and now his team moves forward without him heading to St. Louis on Thursday.
“We’re very supportive of Aldon as we are of all of our players, all of our coaches, our personnel,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve hashed through it, now we’re taking steps and Aldon’s taking steps.”
San Francisco didn’t immediately announce a corresponding roster move.
Smith had been arrested on suspicion of DUI in January 2012 in Miami shortly after the 49ers lost in the NFC championship game. He could face a suspension from the NFL either later this season or next season, and it is likely given he has had more than one infraction.
Smith, selected seventh in the 2011 draft out of Missouri, turns 24 on Wednesday.
DT MELTON OUT FOR YEAR: Chicago said defensive tackle Henry Melton will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Melton suffered a season-ending torn left ACL in Sunday’s 40-23 win at Pittsburgh and will have surgery in a few weeks.
Melton last year had six sacks, third-most by a defensive tackle in the NFL. He was designated Chicago’s franchise free agent after contract negotiations with his agent broke down and received $8 million for this season. He will be a free agent next season.
‘PACMAN’ CITED FOR DISORDERLY CONDUCT: Cincinnati cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones was accused by police of making offensive comments while drunk during a traffic stop early Monday and was given a disorderly conduct citation.
Jones, who has had a spate of legal troubles, was arrested around 2:30 a.m. after the vehicle he was in was pulled over for driving 60 mph in a 45-mph zone on a highway in Cincinnati, State Patrol Lt. Anne Ralston said.
The driver was cited for drunken driving while Jones was cited for disorderly conduct. Both charges are misdemeanors.
Jones and the driver were released and have court hearings set for Friday.
Around the league
The retirees who sued the NFL Players Association over benefit negotiations during the lockout lost their appeal. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upheld the decision of U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson in Minnesota rejecting the claim against the union. They argued they were illegally excluded from negotiations. ... Cardinals starting outside linebackers Sam Acho and Lorenzo Alexander are out for the season with injuries suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Saints. Acho has a broken leg, and Alexander has a foot injury. ... The Packers released return man Jeremy Ross a day after he muffed a kickoff that set up a touchdown in the 34-30 loss to the Bengals. ... Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he has not decided whether quarterback Brian Hoyer will make his second start this week against Cincinnati. ... Quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who missed the past two games with a hand injury, will be the Jaguars’ starter Sunday against Indianapolis.