Aldon Smith hasn't played an professional football game since Nov. 2015. That's a long, forced break without an end in sight.
The edge rusher was banished from the NFL as a repeat offender of the league substance abuse policy, but general manager Reggie McKenzie keeps him in the family.
He's on the team's reserve-suspended list and, despite radio silence on Smith news, fans remain curious about a possible return to the league.
McKenzie has long said Smith's overall health is more important that a return to football.
"Mark Davis and I still talk about him," McKenzie said in an interview with The Athletic, which was published Thursday morning. "We just want to make sure he is doing fine, getting his life on track. Whether Aldon comes back or not really doesn't matter at this point. We just want him to be the best Aldon Smith he can be."
Smith applied for reinstatement in Oct. 2016, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell still hasn't reviewed his case.
McKenzie said the league hasn't mentioned him to the Raiders.
"Yeah, it's been quiet," McKenzie said. "Aldon is just taking the right steps and is going to worry about football later."
McKenzie believes Smith isn't done with the sport he played so well with the 49ers, until substance-abuse problems got in the way.
"I know deep down he wants to play football," McKenzie said. "We're going to be with him until he gets his life in order … or until he doesn't. If he tells me that he is not going to try anymore, then we'll move on. As long as he is trying, he will stay on the roster."