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Aldon Smith suspended 9 games by the NFL

The 49ers suffered a blow to their championship hopes with the suspension of their best pass-rusher.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation 2014 NFL Guide

San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smtih has been suspended nine games by the NFL, the league announced on Friday. Smith, a repeat offender of the league's personal conduct policy, was recently sentenced on weapons and DUI charges stemming from separate arrests in 2012 and 2013.

Statement from the NFL:

Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers has been suspended without pay for the first nine games of the 2014 regular season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substance Abuse and the league's Personal Conduct Policy.

Smith will be eligible for return to the 49ers active roster on Monday, November 10 following the team's November 9 game against the New Orleans Saints.

The weapons charges are from a 2012 arrest, when authorities found illegal assault rifles at a house party. Smith recorded strike two last September after a single-car accident led to a DUI arrest. Following that DUI arrest, he took a voluntary leave of absence from the 49ers, eventually missing over a month of playing time last season.

Smith pled no contest in May to three misdemeanor weapons charges and two misdemeanor DUI charges. He avoided jail time during his July sentencing, getting felony charges dropped in exchange for three years probation and 235 hours of community service.

More trouble came in April after Smith was arrested in a bizarre airport incident in which he became disorderly and made a false claim that he had a bomb. Those charges were later dropped, and theoretically did not factor into the NFL's discipline.

David Fucillo of Niners Nation speculated on a possible replacement for Smith in early July:

If Aldon is suspended, Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta would likely be the candidates to rotate into his role. I list Skuta as strong bubble because it is entirely possible Lemonier shows enough to secure the role for himself. I think they still keep Skuta around in a sort of Parys Haralson role, but Skuta could very well get cut when Aldon finishes his potential suspension. He's a very solid veteran, but if Lemonier is showing enough, there are enough other positions that will want to maintain their additional depth.

Lemonier has been getting a ton of preseason snaps this year. The team also drafted Aaron Lynch in May (fifth round, No. 150 overall), who comes in from South Florida with talent but also off-field issues. He might get some time in the nickel.