ALAMEDA, Calif. - The Oakland Raiders signed troubled pass rusher Aldon Smith to a contract Friday, five weeks after he was released by San Francisco.
The 49ers cut ties with Smith on Aug. 7, a day after his fifth legal run-in since being drafted by the team in 2011. Smith was arrested in Santa Clara on charges of drunken driving, hit and run and vandalism. The Santa Clara District Attorney's office said that Smith was charged Friday with three misdemeanours relating to his latest arrest and will be arraigned on Oct. 6.
"We're very thorough on what we do and how we do it," coach Jack Del Rio said. "We feel very confident about the addition and about our football team going forward."
Smith was not available to talk on Friday but he did deny driving under the influence during a brief interview with a local television station after the arrest last month.
Smith took part in his first practice with the Raiders in his familiar No. 99 and Del Rio said it was possible he could play in the season opener Sunday against Cincinnati despite not practicing for the past five weeks.
Del Rio said Smith arrived in good shape and teammate Justin Tuck said he thinks Smith can step in as a situational pass rusher very quickly.
"Obviously if he plays on Sunday he won't have a full package but he'll have enough," Tuck said. "With a guy like Aldon, the talent that he is, I think he'll get in there and fit right in."
Tuck has a long relationship with Smith, working out with him in the off-season and sharing the same agent. Tuck has been in contact with Smith since he was cut by the Niners and said he was "itching" to get back on the field.
The Raiders hope the veteran presence of players like Tuck and Charles Woodson will help but know Smith must keep his life in order.
"Aldon is his own man," Woodson said. "Whatever he has to deal with, I'm sure he'll deal with it accordingly. I'm not a baby sitter and I don't think anyone expects anybody on this team to be a baby sitter. The only thing we expect is he comes in and works hard."
Smith was suspended for the first nine games last season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies. The league says he is currently eligible to play despite his latest arrest. But the NFL is still looking into that matter.
The 49ers wish their former player well.
"I'm really happy for him," 49ers defensive co-ordinator Eric Mangini said. "There's another guy I had a great experience with, loved the way he was working, approaching things. I'm cheering for him to do great things."
The 25-year-old Smith missed time during the 2013 season to undergo treatment at an inpatient facility following his DUI arrest on Sept. 20 that year.
Later in the year, he pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, stemming from a June 2012 party at his home.
Smith was arrested on April 13, 2014, at Los Angeles International Airport. Police said Smith was randomly selected for a secondary screening and became unco-operative with the process, telling a TSA agent that he had a bomb. No charges were filed.
Despite that checkered past, the Raiders were willing to take a chance on a player they believe can bolster a pass rush that had a franchise-low 22 sacks last season.
"We are confident that the Raiders provide an environment where Aldon can thrive through the support, structure and leadership within the building," general manager Reggie McKenzie said.
Smith is one of the most accomplished pass rushers when available. He had 33 1/2 sacks his first two seasons, including a franchise-record 19 1/2 in 2012 when he helped the Niners reach the Super Bowl.
He had just 10 1/2 sacks in 18 games over the past two seasons before being cut by San Francisco.
"I'm excited for him to have another opportunity to go out there and play this game that he loves," 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. "Hopefully, he realizes the opportunity that he has and stays on track."
NOTES: The Raiders waived DE Lavar Edwards to make room on the roster. ... DL Benson Mayowa will miss the game Sunday with a knee injury.
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Santa Clara contributed to this report.
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