49ers

49ers key matchup No. 3: Justin Smith vs. Chilo Rachal

883871.jpg

49ers key matchup No. 3: Justin Smith vs. Chilo Rachal

This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Bears matchups to watch Monday, 5:30 p.m. (ESPNCBS 5), at Candlestick Park.49ers DT Justin Smith vs. Bears LG Chilo RachalTale of the tape
Smith (94): 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, 12th season, Missouri
Rachal (62): 6-foot-5, 323 pounds, fifth season, USCDespite coming nowhere near producing the gaudy statistics of a year ago, defensive tackle Justin Smith still has a hand in just about everything on the 49ers' defense.Outside linebacker Aldon Smith is on pace to eclipse the sack total of his rookie season. And Justin Smith -- with no sacks of his own through nine games -- certainly deserves some of the credit. Aldon Smith has 9.5 sacks in nine games after recording 14 sacks in his first year.Justin Smith will be matched most of Monday night against Chilo Rachal, who holds the distinction of being the only 49ers player since coach Jim Harbaugh's arrival to lose his starting job due solely to poor performance.Rachal, a second-round pick in 2008, entered last season as the starting right guard. But after struggling immensely in his first 2 12 games, Rachal was benched at halftime of the 49ers' Week 3 win at the Cincinnati Bengals. He never started another game for the 49ers, and was not offered a contract as a free agent.Rachal signed a one-year, 700,000 contract with the Chicago Bears. He moved into the Bears' starting lineup in Week 3 when Chris Spencer was benched. Rachal will face Justin Smith, one of the league's most difficult matchups for any offensive lineman."I'm sure it'll be a good battle," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "Chilo obviously knows Justin from practicing against him here for the few years that he was here."Part of Justin Smith's game is to overpower the left guard and steer him into the left tackle to open a gaping hole through which Aldon Smith can enter for a free run at the quarterback. If Justin Smith is able to shove around Rachal, that could mean big things Monday night for Aldon Smith.It's the kind of action that New York Giants Kevin Gilbride complained about earlier this season when he said -- much to Harbaugh's objection -- that Justin Smith "gets away with murder."Said Fangio, "Theres a lot of hand-fighting and guys get grabbed both ways," Fangio said. "And there's nothing illegal about it or anything. It's just normal hand play."

Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

smelter-us.jpg
USATSI

Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.

Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.

Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.

Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.

Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.

The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.

Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.

An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

garoppolo-brady-patrs.jpg
USATSI

An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

If the 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are unable to reach a multi-year contract extension by March 6, the 49ers have no other choice but to designate him as their franchise player.

The estimated one-year salary for the franchise tag would be $23.307 million, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry, whose work now appears at CBS Sports. (That is assuming a 2018 league-wide salary cap of $178.1 million per team.)

There is a lot to consider for both sides as they look to enter into a long-term contract. Corry said if a deal is struck, he would expect it to be in the neighborhood of Derek Carr’s five-year, $125 million deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason.

“And then there’s the other dynamic, which I would not undersell or I think may not be appreciated as much as it should be,” Corry said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “(Garoppolo’s agent) Don Yee has a reputation – no fault of his own – of doing team-friendly deals.”

Yee also represents New England quarterback Tom Brady, whose average of $20.5 million annual pay ranks 15th among NFL quarterbacks. Brady is underpaid by design, Corry said, because one of the great quarterbacks of all-time realizes it helps the Patriots to maintain a strong supporting cast.

“That’s because Tom Brady dictates, ‘I want to do something good for the team, take less money so we can improve the roster to win Super Bowls.’ That’s not Don Yee who wants to do that,” Corry said.

“The agent works for the player, so he’s executing Tom Brady’s wishes. But he gets that held against him in recruiting. So this is his opportunity to erase that perception if Garoppolo allows him to do his job and gives him latitude to strike the deal that he feels is appropriate.”

For more on the potential negotiating strategies of both sides, listen here to the 49ers Insider Podcast.