In the news:
Niners’ Smith now faces three felony weapons charges
Embattled 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was charged Wednesday with possession of illegal assault weapons and drunken driving for separate incidents that occurred in the past 14 months.
Seattle Times news services
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Embattled 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was charged Wednesday with possession of illegal assault weapons and drunken driving for separate incidents that occurred in the past 14 months.
If Smith is convicted of the three felony gun charges, he would face a range of possible punishments, from probation to four years and four months in prison. Deputies discovered the guns shortly after a June 2012 house party, which ended with Smith being stabbed and two partygoers wounded by gunfire from gang members who crashed the event.
Last month, Smith was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after he hit a tree. He now faces two misdemeanor DUI charges, including having a blood-alcohol level of .15 — nearly double the legal limit.
The 24-year-old, who is currently in a rehabilitation program, is expected to surrender later this month.
Asked why the gun charges were filed more than a year after the weapons were found, prosecutors said the sheriff’s department first presented the case to them in July. They then conducted their own investigation.
“We’ve been aware of the incident and the serious nature of it,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “We’re all accountable for our actions, good and bad. There’s due process that will take place.”
On Monday, the coach said he had traded a few text messages with Smith, saying, “Heard that things are going very well, very positive reports back.”
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons’ season on the brink took another ominous turn with the confirmation that Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones is out for the season.
Jones suffered an undisclosed right foot injury against the New York Jets and will have surgery Monday.
With the Falcons off to a 1-4 start, Jones was carrying the offense. Even while being double- and sometimes triple-teamed, Jones has accounted for 35.3 percent of the team’s receiving yards and 26.9 percent of its catches.
• In the most detailed defense to date of the Redskins name, team owner Daniel Snyder said in a letter to fans that while he respects “the opinions of those who are offended by the team name ... we cannot ignore our 81- year history.”
• Josh Freeman practiced for the first time with the Minnesota Vikings, three days after he was signed to eventually be their starting quarterback. He won’t start this week. The Vikings also signed defensive end Brian Robison to a four-year extension that could be worth $28 million, including guarantees of more than $12 million.
• New England tight end Rob Gronkowski has missed all five games while recovering from offseason surgeries on his left forearm and back. But he’s getting closer to playing and that could happen against the unbeaten New Orleans Saints on Sunday, which should help the Patriots’ struggling offense.
• Running backs Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings were back at practice for the Oakland Raiders despite being hampered by hamstring injuries.
• The San Francisco 49ers claimed quarterback McLeod Bethel-Johnson off waivers and released journeyman backup quarterback John Skelton.
• Darris McCord, a member of the Detroit Lions’ Fearsome Foursome that terrorized NFL offenses, died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He was 80.