SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Aldon Smith is signing with a new team, and he won't have to leave the Bay Area.
The former 49ers outside linebacker is signed a one-year deal with the Oakland Raiders Friday after San Francisco released Smith Aug. 7 following his third DUI-related arrest and fifth run-in with the law since the team drafted him seventh overall in 2011. Smith is eligible to play in Oakland's season opener Sunday when it hosts the Bengals.
Smith, 25, missed 14 games over the last two seasons for his off-the-field transgressions. In 2013, he took a five-game leave of absence to attend an in-patient treatment facility following a second arrest for driving under the influence, which came two days before playing an entire game against the Indianapolis Colts.
After the Raiders made Smith's signing official Friday, the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office announced Smith was charged with three misdemeanors stemming from his Aug. 6 arrest. He faces charges of DUI with prior conviction and refusal to submit to chemical test, hit-and-run and vandalism.
"We are confident that the Raiders provide an environment where Aldon can thrive through the support, structure and leadership within the building," Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie said. "We are excited to have Aldon here in the Raiders family."
Last season, Smith was dealt a nine-game suspension by the NFL for violating the substance abuse and personal conduct policies relating to his string of arrests, which included misdemeanor charges for the possession of illegal assault rifles.
"You have to move forward," 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. "I’m all about Aldon, whatever’s best for him. He’s my friend. He was my teammate. Whatever’s best for him. He has his family to take care of and that’s depending on him. I’m excited for him to have another opportunity to go out there and play this game he loves."
New defensive coordinator Eric Mangini said he had nothing but positive experiences with Smith since taking over last winter.
"I'm really happy for him," Mangini said of Smith's signing with Oakland. "(Smith's) another guy I had a great experience with. Loved the way he was working, approaching things."
The 49ers had enough of Smith last month when they released him the morning after he was arrested for hit and run, DUI and vandalism charges. Smith's arraignment is set for Oct. 6, and the league has not yet issued discipline to Smith for his latest arrest.
In four seasons, Smith tallied 44 sacks in 50 games, earning a first-team All-Pro nomination in 2012, when he had 19.5 sacks, helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl. With the losses of Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Aldon Smith and a slew of others, the only remaining players from that defense that played in the Super Bowl are NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks.
Brooks was given a misdemeanor sexual battery charge last month from a December incident at McDonald's house, which remains under league review. Head coach Jim Tomsula said he expects Brooks to play in Monday night's season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
Chris Biderman is the Editor-in-Chief of Niners Digest and covers the 49ers from their headquarters in Santa Clara. Chris has been writing about the team since the spring of 2013. The Ohio State alum received his Journalism degree in 2011 and has been working in sports media since 2008. Chris, a Santa Rosa, Calif. native, is also a contributor to the Associated Press covering sports throughout the Bay Area. You can follow Chris on Twitter here.
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