The MRI Malcolm Smith underwent after a chest injury Saturday revealed the worst for the seventh-year linebacker. He tore a pectoral muscle and is expected to miss the season, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
The team formally announced that he will be placed on IR. To take his place, former Villanova linebacker Austin Calitro was signed to a two-year deal.
The 49ers signed Smith to a five-year, $26.5MM deal but will now move on to other options at weakside linebacker. Reuben Foster, who has been working with the second-team defense at Smith’s spot, stands to be the highest-profile talent of those vying for next-in-line status in San Francisco.
Both Rapoport and Matt Maiocco from CSNBayArea.com (Twitter links) expect the Alabama linebacker, a player the new-look 49ers brass said they considered at No. 3 overall, to move into that spot alongside NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks.
Smith, who missed just one game during his two-year Oakland stint, led the Raiders in tackles in 2015 and ’16 but was given mediocre grades from Pro Football Focus. The 49ers, who hired former Smith position coach Robert Saleh as DC, nonetheless submitted a lucrative contract offer to the 28-year-old off-ball ‘backer.
Smith is set to make $3.7MM this season and carry a cap number of $4.7MM in 2018. It would cost the 49ers $8.1MM in dead money to release Smith in 2018, so the objective for the team and Smith will be a recovery that puts him on course to contribute next season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.