Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but you get the idea.
One of the big signings for the San Francisco 49ers during free agency was linebacker Malcolm Smith. He was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks where he played for his former college coach Pete Carroll. Smith stayed on the West Coast for his next two seasons playing for the Oakland Raiders. Smith was the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII when with Seattle and just finished two consecutive triple digit season totals in tackles.
Experience: 7 years
Malcolm Smith signed a five year, $26.5 millon contract with the 49ers. Smith’s contract has $12 million guaranteed including a $7 million signing bonus. In each year of the contract there are per game roster bonuses. The 2020 and 2021 years are both option years.
Why he might improve:
From every report from players learning the new defense, Robert Saleh’s one gap scheme is much more simple for the players. This can only lead to improvement on everyone’s part. Malcolm Smith is already familiar with the scheme, having played for Seattle, so his work seems to be cut out for him.
Why he might regress:
Smith had a remarkable 2015 with the Raiders recording 122 tackles, four sacks and one interception. His production dipped slightly in 2016 with 103 tackles, no sacks and one interception. He was part of a Raiders defense that ranked 23rd against the run. He has also been criticized for his pass coverage. Out of 83 qualifying linebackers, per Pro Football Focus, Malcolm Smith ranked 77th in 2016.
Odds of making the roster:
Just on salary alone, I believe Smith is a lock to make the roster. The 49ers have added key players to the defense and he is one of them. How much paying time he gets may depend on the progress and health of new draft pick Reuben Foster. If Foster has an outstanding training camp and his shoulder is as healthy as the team says it is, he may begin to take playing time away from veterans but for roster positioning, Smith will be there.