Monday evening, free agent running back Alfonso Smith tweeted that he had signed with the San Francisco 49ers. Tuesday morning, Jim Harbaugh confirmed the move, and shortly after the team issued a press release on the transaction. The 49ers officially signed Smith, and made room for the addition by waiving Fou Fonoti.
The 49ers designated Fonoti waived/injured after he injured his leg on Sunday. There has been no word on the seriousness of his injury. In using the waived/injured designation, the 49ers have a couple options. If Fonoti clears waivers, the 49ers can place him on injured reserve, or they can agree to an injury settlement. An injury settlement involves paying him the equivalent number of game checks he would miss with the injury. It would not surprise me if the 49ers decided to stash the rookie on injured reserve. He was a talented offensive lineman in college, but had plenty of development ahead of him. We should find out in the next couple days how this situation plays out.
In the meantime, Smith joins a running back corps that is dealing with injury issues, and needs at least a camp body. I suppose Smith could impress the coaching staff and earn a roster spot, but he's working from the bottom up.
I spoke with Jess Root from Revenge of the Birds, and he had some thoughts on Smith:
Alfonso is a typical back of the roster running back. He never has excelled as a runner, but he does have some skills. You might remember him as the back that fumbled late in the game the Cardinals played in San Francisco.
He has very good speed. I think he clocked a 4.29 coming out of Kentucky. The issue is that he does not have good patience or vision. As a back, he almost always hits his hole too early. He is a very good pass protector, which earned him a spot on the roster. He is solid on special teams and a good open field tackler in kick coverage. He is very likeable and stays out of trouble.
The Cardinals signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He spent that first season on their practice squad. He was on the roster in 2011, and then in 2012 was beaten out by William Powell for a running back spot. Injuries to Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams brought him back. He made the team outright in 2013 due to his special teams play and pass blocking. That fumble against the Niners was his last carry of the season. The Cards didn't bring him back because he was a RFA and certainly not worth the tender. I'm personally happy he landed with a team, at least for now. If me makes the team, you will like him.