The NFL has suspended San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith for the first nine games of the season following multiple off-field incidents, the league announced Friday.
Smith, 24, pleaded no contest in May to three felony charges of possessing illegal assault rifles and misdemeanor DUI, stemming from separate incidents in 2012 and 2013. He was sentenced last month to 235 hours of community service and three years of probation and will spend 11 Mondays on a sheriff's work crew.
Smith also was arrested in April after an incident at Los Angeles International Airport after he allegedly made a bomb threat, but no criminal charges were brought.
The DUI arrest Sept. 20 – two days before the 49ers hosted a game against the Indianapolis Colts – was Smith's second since he entered the NFL, though the charge from a January 2012 incident was reduced to reckless driving because he qualified for a diversion program.
Smith played in the Colts game but missed the next five while seeking treatment for substance-abuse issues. As with most first-time offenders, the NFL waited to mete out discipline until the legal process had run its course.
The suspension leaves the 49ers without their top pass rusher to start the season. In 43 career regular-season games, Smith has 42 sacks.