Malcolm Smith Is Eager to Make 49ers Game Debut

After missing all of 2017, veteran linebacker is set to start vs. Cowboys Thursday in exhibition opener

Almost a year and a half ago, linebacker Malcolm Smith signed a five-year deal with the Raiders. At the time, it was believed the former Seahawks and Raiders player would be a leader and steadying influence on a shaky defense. Instead, Smith tore a chest muscle in training camp and never played a down for San Francisco, not even in summer exhibitions.

Now Smith is eager for his game debut in a 49ers uniform Thursday night in an exhibition vs. the Dallas Cowboys.

“I think it’s going to be really important for me to get out there and get a feel for the game,” Smith told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Just being in the stadium (Levi’s Stadium) – I haven’t played in this stadium – so that will be exciting.”

Smith goes into Thursday’s game listed as the starter at strong-side linebacker, alongside middle linebacker Reuben Foster and Eli Harold, who will start on the weak side. It’s possible, however, that rookie Fred Warner – who’s looked very good in practices – could push Smith this summer.

Smith recently told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group that he suffered a slight heel injury just before training camp, but he’s working through it. He’s ready to play and practice through the rest of camp. He says he needs the time back on the field to get ready for the regular season.

“I haven’t played in a long time, so we’ll see in games how things go,” he said. “Just trying to get prepared mentally so I could go in and execute and get better physically as the preseason games go.”

Thursday’s game against the visiting Cowboys is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

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