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Aldon Smith activated to 49ers' 53-man roster

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Aldon Smith is cleared for a return to game action for the San Francisco 49ers.

The team announced Saturday that Smith has been added to the 53-man roster, making him eligible to play in San Francisco's Week 11 matchup against the New York Giants. In a corresponding move, safety Jimmie Ward was placed on injured reserve.

Smith served a nine-game suspension for violating the league's policy on personal conduct and substances of abuse. The 25-year-old was allowed to be around the team during his suspension -- as part of the negotiated terms -- but couldn't participate in on-field activities. Smith was reinstated from his suspension Tuesday and practiced with teammates this week.

Smith was informed during a meeting with NFL officials that his suspension would be reduced by one game with good behavior. Of course, he ended up serving the full nine-game ban. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources familiar informed of Smith's thinking, that the player was told he didn't fulfill counseling requirements.

Smith was told to see a league counselor, did so, then told the league he was being helped more by his own counselor.

Smith's return should provide a significant boost to a Niners defense that sent star linebacker Patrick Willis to injured reserve this week. The Niners also received more good news Saturday, as NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that NaVorro Bowman has been cleared to return to practice

Smith is one of the most gifted pass rushers in football. The outside linebacker piled up 42 sacks in his first 43 career games. He'll likely be on a snap count against the Giants, but it shouldn't be long before he's worked back into defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's scheme on a full-time basis.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews every Week 11 game and recaps the Dolphins' key victory over the Bills. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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