49ers stay hopeful about Aldon Smith

LONDON -- San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke echoed the thoughts of coach Jim Harbaugh when he said the team hopes troubled pass-rusher Aldon Smith returns this season.

Smith entered an alcohol treatment center 32 days ago. Sunday, Harbaugh said the reports on Smith were positive and is hopeful Smith can return this season.

“I support what Jim said,” Baalke said. “Obviously, we are hopeful, but we are prepared for either outcome.”

Baalke said he hopes the team will meet with Smith soon, but gave no timetable for Smith's return.

Baalke said Smith must continue to show “progress” before he returns to the field, and that football is secondary right now.

"Our ultimate goal is to help Aldon get back to a place where he feels very comfortable and can move forward in a positive manner," Baalke said.

Smith, 24, leads the NFL with 38.5 sacks since 2011. The 49ers have won four straight since Smith sought treatment three days after he was arrested on drunk driving charges, his second such arrest since entering the NFL.