The NFL finally announced a suspension for San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith on Friday. Smith will be suspended for the first nine games of the 2014 NFL season for a violation of both the NFL's personal conduct policy and substance abuse policy.
One of those games includes the NFL Week 4 match-up between the Philadelphia Eagles and the 49ers that's scheduled to take place in San Francisco. The fact that the 49ers will be without one of their best players comes as good news to the Eagles.
Here's the reaction from over at San Francisco 49ers SB Nation site, Niners Nation.
Smith has been a star in training camp. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Smith is "at the highest level" of his position. Smith already has 42 sacks in 43 regular-season games. It had been reported the 49ers were preparing for a possible 6-8 game suspension, but later the suspension was estimated by many to be around 4 games.
The league's suspension decision allows the team to move forward with the 2014 season. With Smith on the Reserve/Suspended list, it means Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta would likely be the candidates to rotate into his role. It is possible Lemonier shows enough to secure the role for himself, but it is likely the team will handle the situation similar to what they did last year with Skuta getting base down work, and Lemonier getting nickel work. .
Smith is just one of the talented players that the Eagles already know they won't have to face in 2014. Indianapolis Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis is another one of those players. There are a few others as well. The Eagles' 2013 season was filled with their opponents missing some of their best players due to injury: Packers (Aaron Rodgers), Lions (Reggie Bush), and so on. It's early, but it looks like this trend will continue for the Eagles into at least the early part of the 2014 season.