Aldon Smith added to 49ers active roster

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers could have their top pass rusher back this weekend.

Aldon Smith has returned to the San Francisco 49ers active roster, and could play this week against the Carolina PanthersAdrian Wilson reports the team has lifted its roster exemption on Smith, effectively clearing him to play.

Smith stepped away from the organization in September following a single-vehicle accident in which police found marijuana and pills in his car. He checked himself into rehabilitation, and was charged with felony weapon charges in regards to the incident.

The only thing that could potentially keep him from playing is a suspension issued by the NFL, but there is no indication that is planned at this time. Based on past incidents it's likely commissioner Roger Goodell would suspend Smith, but there is a precedent for him waiting until legal proceedings have run their course.

Smith's return couldn't come at a better time for the 49ers. The team has lacked a solid pass rush this season, despite having a winning record. He totaled 19.5 sacks in 2012, while San Francisco has a total of 17.0 sacks this season.

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