The San Francisco 49ers won’t go looking for outside help to fill in for the injured Malcolm Smith. The weakside linebacker is out for the season, and the team will try to find someone from within to replace him.
Smith’s MRI showed he tore a pectoral muscle, which means he won’t be playing for the 49ers this season. Smith was signed in the offseason on a 5-year, $26.5 million deal, including $12 million in guaranteed money. Releasing him in 2018 will cost the 49ers $8.1 million, so right now their main goal is getting him healthy again, while finding someone to move up the depth chart and do his job. They aren’t under too much pressure to win this season anyway, so signing another player isn’t a top priority.
So who is there to fill in for Smith? Reuben Foster is probably the next in line. The former Alabama standout was the 31st overall pick by the 49ers, and is probably going to join NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks. Other players who might get more time on the field due to Smith’s injury are Ray-Ray Armstrong, Dekoda Watson and Brock Coyle.
Smith played the first four seasons of his career with the Seattle Seahawks, winning the Super Bowl MVP three and a half years ago after the win over the Denver Broncos. He played for the Oakland Raiders over the last two seasons, missing only one game, although analytics rank him as a middle-of-the-pack linebacker over both seasons. That didn’t stop the 49ers from signing him to a 5-year deal, which one year of has now gone down the drain.