SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- While there is little doubt a multi-game suspension for San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith is coming from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, it’s arrival date has the team in a state of flux.
But not in disarray.
That’s because the 49ers know it’s coming, even if they don’t know exactly when or for how many games.
“Actually, because you have a feeling that something may happen at this point in the season, everybody’s getting reps now,” 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Tuesday. “All the guys that may play for him -- (Dan) Skuta, (Corey) Lemonier, (Aaron) Lynch, (Chase) Thomas -- all those guys have been getting a lot of reps. They’re all ready to go.
“It’s more of an issue when it happens in the middle of the season, just thrown at you like it happened last year. Then there’s no time to adjust. You just go.”
Last year, Smith checked himself into rehab following a Week 3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts that dropped the 49ers’ record to 1-2. He was allowed to play in that game after a single-car accident in which alcohol was involved.
With Smith gone, the 49ers went 5-0.
“Guys, Skuta and Corey, stepped up big time for us,” said inside linebacker Patrick Willis. “It’s going to have to be like that again if we’ve got a situation.
“Regardless whether a player is down with injuries or he’s sick or a family cause, someone else has to step in and play just as well. Aldon has some big shoes to fill, but that’s why we’ve got to play team defense.”
Smith, who has numerous off-field transgressions on his docket including the DUI, weapons charges and a bizarre bomb threat at LAX, met with Goodell more than two weeks ago, making the delay in announcing a suspension a mystery of sorts.
Because while the NFL took heat for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice receiving “only”a two-game suspension after knocking out his fiancé, rumors have flown that Smith is in line for up to an eight-game suspension.
Late last week, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he had received no “indication” from the league about a looming suspension for Smith, a fourth-year player who was an All-Pro selection with 19.5 sacks in 2012.