Before the 2017 season, the 49ers signed veteran free-agent linebacker Malcolm Smith to a five-year contract worth as much as $26.5 million.
So far, that deal has earned the team 35 tackles, zero interceptions and zero sacks.
Yet Smith – who missed all of 2017 because of injury, then appeared in 12 games last season – still has a future in a 49ers uniform.
The NFL Network reports Smith has restructured his contract to remain with the team. Mike Garafolo reports Smith was due to make $3.75 million this season and the team could have cut him to save some money under the salary cap this offseason.
Instead, Smith has agreed to new terms (as yet undisclosed) that will allow him to compete for a starting job and roster spot through spring workouts and training camp while saving the team some money under the salary cap.
Wrote Garafolo: “Early in the offseason process, hanging on to Smith makes sense for the Niners. The veteran linebacker could compete for either the weakside or stronside linebacker positions next to second-year stud Fred Warner.”
Smith, 29, started five games for San Francisco in 2018. Before coming to the 49ers, he played two seasons in Oakland, making 30 starts, after beginning his NFL career with four seasons in Seattle. With the Seahawks, he was the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle’s 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos on Feb. 2, 2014. In that game, he had a 69-yard interception return for a touchdown, 10 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Smith will be part of a linebacking corps that includes Brock Coyle and Elijah Lee. The 49ers also are expected to add more talent via the draft and free agency, but for now, Smith will get another chance to earn a major role.