SANTA CLARA – Wide receiver Jerome Simpson has been suspended without pay for the first six games of the regular season for violating the NFL policy on substances of abuse, the league announced Tuesday.
“The probability of a suspension was known when we signed Jerome,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement.
“Since joining the 49ers, Jerome has proven to be a great teammate. Although he will not be able to participate in the first six weeks of the season, Jerome has done everything asked of him, both on and off the field. We are in full support of the NFL’s decision, and look forward to Jerome’s future contributions to our organization.”
Simpson, 29, a six-year NFL veteran, will be eligible to return to the 49ers’ active roster on Monday, October 19, following the team’s October 18 game against the Baltimore Ravens. Simpson continues to be eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games, the league said.
Simpson will not count against the 49ers’ 53-man roster at the start of the regular season. He will go on the reserve/suspended list. After the suspension, the 49ers will make a decision whether to promote him to the 53-man roster or release him.
Simpson has been in competition during training camp for the 49ers’ No. 3 job behind starting receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin. Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington are also leading contenders for the role, though Ellington has missed significant practice time with a leg strain.
In the 49ers’ exhibition opener Saturday night against the Houston Texans, Simpson caught two passes for a team-high 31 yards.
The 49ers signed Simpson to a two-year contract in March with the understanding that he might not be available for the start of the regular season due to previous incidents that the NFL had yet to address through discipline.
Simpson did not play last season after the Minnesota Vikings released him in September as he finished a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse as a repeat offender. In 2013 while with the Vikings, he caught 48 passes for a career-high 726 yards (15.1 average) and one touchdown.
It was the second suspension of his NFL career. Simpson pleaded guilty to a felony charge resulting from two pounds of marijuana being shipped to his home in Kentucky in September 2011 while he was with the Cincinnati Bengals.
He was arrested for suspicion of DWI in November 2013. Simpson was also cited in July 2014 on charges of marijuana possession, open container and violating the conditions of his limited drivers license.