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49ers release veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith

© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

SANTA CLARA – Tuesday marked the end of the Malcolm Smith era with the 49ers. It’s hard to make a case that the two-year period could have gone any worse. Smith had initially signed a five-year, $26.5 million deal (with 2020 and 2021 options) with the 49ers in 2017 before it was restructured this summer to a one-year deal (with the remaining options); the team will save a projected $1.337 million by cutting him, according to Over the Cap.

The move was first reported by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo before the team quickly confirmed the move. The corresponding move is the addition of wide receiver Nick Williams, who has played with head coach Kyle Shanahan before with the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons and was recently released by the Denver Broncos.

In 2017, Smith tore his his pectoral muscle and missed the entirety of the season on injured reserve. He played in just 12 games in 2018, starting in just five of those games. He had also dealt with hamstring tightness this offseason.

With the addition of middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, second-year linebacker Fred Warner’s stellar first season and evident improvement coming into this season, rookie Dre Greenlaw’s standout camp, plus the team’s shift to a nickel package as its base defense, Smith’s already low value dropped even further.

He was not projected to make the 53-man roster in any of KNBR’s three roster projections this offseason.


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