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Niners' Aldon Smith suspended for nine games

The San Francisco 49ers can finally start planning for life without Aldon Smith.

The NFL on Friday announced a nine-game suspension for Smith for violating the league's policy on personal conduct and substances of abuse. Smith will be eligible to return for the Week 11 game against the New York Giants. The 49ers have a Week 8 bye.

"Our organization has known this decision would come and we have prepared for it as a team," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement released by the team. "Aldon has taken responsibility for his actions and has continued to show growth personally and professionally. We will continue to support him, but it is time to put this matter behind us and focus on the season ahead."

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Smith has already appealed and lost. The breakdown of the suspension is four games for substances of abuse and five games for violating the personal conduct policy, per the agreement negotiated, according to a source informed of the decision.

"I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the entire 49ers organization and 49ers fans for not being able to contribute on the field for the next several weeks," Smith said in a statement released Saturday by the NFL Players Association. "Over the last year, I have learned a lot and I'm working hard to grow from my experiences."

One positive for Smith stemming from the negotiations is that he will be allowed to remain around the 49ers' facilities during his suspension. Keeping him around the team is something the Niners wanted very badly, according to Rapoport.

"I will be at work daily to participate in all permitted work activities, and to support my teammates, just as they have supported me," Smith added in his statement.

It's the second consecutive season in which Smith will miss several games unrelated to injury. He was out five games in 2013 following a DUI arrest when he voluntarily checked himself into a treatment facility.

Smith, 24, has had a long list of off-field transgressions. He received a 12-day sentence and three years of probation in July following a no-contest plea to three felony weapons charges and two misdemeanor DUI charges. The weapons charges (and one of the DUI charges) were in connection to a 2012 party at Smith's residence where he was stabbed.

Smith also made waves this year when he was accused of making a bomb threat to a TSA agent at Los Angeles International Airport, but charges weren't filed.

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Smith is the fastest player in league history to record 30 sacks (27 games). The team will sorely miss him, especially with some potent offenses on the 49ers' early slate. Sixth-year player Dan Skuta is expected to replace Smith in the starting lineup.

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