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Aldon Smith returns to the 49ers

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 29: Aldon Smith #99 of the San Francisco 49ers salutes the crowd after getting a sack against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 29, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. 49rs won 24-3. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

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Starting Sunday against the Giants in New York, Aldon Smith will have a chance to build on his uncanny streak of 42 sacks in 43 career regular-season games.

The NFL officially has reinstated Smith, following a nine-game suspension for violations of the personal conduct policy and the substance abuse policy.

As noted by Matt Maiocco of, Smith hasn’t practiced or played since the preseason. Smith has been permitted to work out at the facility and attend meetings.

"[H]e’s eligible to play and to practice,” coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters on Monday. “Very much look forward to that. There’s consequences for our actions -- good and bad. Good consequences for good action. And there’s accountability. He has served that. He has done that. Look forward to moving forward in a fresh, clean slate.”

The slate may be clean, but Smith will face harsher punishment than would a player without an extensive history of off-field issues. Unless he stays out of trouble. Which he has managed to do for most of the last year.