ESPN went through the best and worst free-agent signings for all NFL teams since 2015. With free agency about a week away, it’s always fun to look back on the signings you thought would turn out to be terrible, and they ended up turning out to be a good fit. On the flip side, the players you thought would be a home run signing, and ultimately didn’t end up doing very much. We’ll do the best tomorrow morning. Let’s start with the San Francisco 49ers’ worst free-agent signing in the last few years. Here is what ESPN had to say:
Worst free-agent signing: LB Malcolm Smith. One of the first signings of the John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan era, Smith signed a five-year, $26.5 million deal with the Niners in 2017. While Smith had familiarity with coordinator Robert Saleh’s defense, his time with the 49ers was marked by injury. He missed the entire 2017 season with a torn pectoral and started just five games in 2018 before he was released in 2019. He made 35 tackles in 12 games over two seasons with the team, leaving San Francisco to continue investing serious resources at linebacker. — Nick Wagoner
Dre Greenlaw made Smith expendable. You could see the difference in talent in one practice. Greenlaw made the first few plays when he was on the field, while Smith gave up plays in the passing game. Smith wasn’t brought in to be a game-changer but signing a SAM linebacker to a long-term deal in today’s game where that player comes off the field in sub-packages. In 2018, Smith played more than 50 snaps for the 49ers two times all season. In one of those games, Smith gave up a long touchdown in coverage. San Francisco ended up renegotiating his contract, and ultimately releasing Smith. The team had to pay Smith a little over $4 million in dead money. Kudos to the 49ers for setting up the contract so they can get out of it without having to pay too much to Smith. In two seasons, Smith made a $12.3 million.
Do you agree that Smith is the worst 49ers free-agent signing since 2015?