NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Aldon Smith's absence from the 49ers lineup grew to four games Sunday, but his return from a treatment facility could come in the next couple of weeks, coach Jim Harbaugh said after a 31-17 win over the Tennessee Titans.
"I hear things are going pretty well," said Harbaugh, noting that Smith's mother, Kimberly, came from her Atlanta-area home to attend Sunday's game.
Smith took an indefinite leave from the 49ers to enter an inpatient rehabilitation center after playing in a Sept. 22 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, a game that came two days after his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving in a one-car accident in San Jose.
Smith reportedly must be cleared by doctors independent of the NFL before his return to the 49ers. "I'm not real knowledgeable on exactly when that's going to be, but I think that at some point in the next couple of weeks," Harbaugh said. "I'm hopeful, but I'm not the definitive source on any announcement there."
The 49ers play next Sunday in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars and then have a bye week, which seemingly could mark Smith's return. Smith still leads the 49ers in sacks with 41/2. He set a franchise record with 191/2 sacks last season after totaling 14 as a rookie. In his fourth game, undrafted rookie cornerback Darryl Morris continued to make the most of his promotion from the practice squad. He not only made two special-teams tackles, but his quick coverage also resulted in a muffed punt that Kassim Osgood recovered in the end zone for a touchdown and 31-10 lead.
"The dream play, by Darryl Morris and Kassim Osgood, is one you just lay awake at night and dream about," Harbaugh said. "It looked like an arrow going through snow. That was 4.3 speed (by Morris), and Kassim Osgood, the veteran that he is, capitalized on a mistake." It was the 49ers' first muffed-punt recovery for a touchdown since Scott McKillop's in 2009 against the St. Louis Rams. Anquan Boldin had a team-high five receptions for 74 yards, including back-to-back sideline catches in which he dove for the first one (a 25-yard reception) and then made a one-handed grab of the second (an 11-yard catch). "That's what he is known for," tight end Vernon Davis said. "He's always going to make that circus catch. You don't know when, but you have to expect it. His hands are unbelievable." Frank Gore ran for two touchdowns in a game for the first time since the 2009 finale. "It's great to get touchdowns," said Gore, the franchise leader with 56 rushing touchdowns. "We do whatever it takes to win. ... We are not selfish." With 67 overall touchdowns, Gore moved into third on the franchise list, ahead of Roger Craig (66) and behind Jerry Rice (187) and Terrell Owens (83). The 49ers won by a double-digit cushion for a fourth straight game, a streak last accomplished by them in 1997. They also scored over 30 points for a fourth straight game, something they last did in 1998. Gore's first touchdown was set up by Tramaine Brock's third interception in three games. The 49ers have converted each of their last 12 takeaways into points (eight touchdowns, four field goals). The 49ers were 8 of 10 on third-down conversions before finishing 8 of 16. For the second straight Sunday, running back LaMichael James was a healthy scratch. He has been inactive for 17 of 26 career games. The 49ers' habit has been to dress only three running backs: Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon, the latter being a key member of the special teams units. Harbaugh has called it a "week-to-week" decision on how many running backs to activate. Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey started despite missing two practices last week with a hamstring injury. The 49ers also inactivated wide receivers Marlon Moore and Quinton Patton, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, guard Joe Looney and linebacker Jermaine Cunningham.