49ers-Packers matchups to watch: 1. Smiths vs. Newhouse


49ers-Packers matchups to watch: 1. Smiths vs. Newhouse

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three 49ers-Packers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (FOX-TV), at Lambeau Field.

Matchup No. 3: Anthony Davis vs. Nick Perry
Matchup No. 2: Vernon Davis vs. Charles Woodson
Tale of the tape
Aldon Smith: 6-foot-4, 258 pounds, second season, Missouri
Justin Smith: 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, 12th season, Missouri
Marshall Newhouse: 6-foot-4, 319 pounds, third season, Texas ChristianAldon Smith is set to make his first NFL start at outside linebacker.But it remains to be seen if he'll play all that much outside linebacker Sunday afternoon against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.The Packers figure to spread out their offense with multi-receiver formations and then go with mostly a no-huddle offense. That means the 49ers could spend almost all of Sunday's game with their nickel defense on the field.
And that means Smith is likely to play more defensive end. The 49ers play a four-man line when they have extra defensive backs on the field.The weak link of the Packers offensive line is left tackle Marshall Newhouse. Either way, he'll be going up against a Smith. If the 49ers are in their base defense, Newhouse will line up against Justin Smith. If the 49ers are in nickel, Newhouse will have to contend with Aldon Smith, who led all rookies last season with 14 sacks.Green Bay must come up with a plan against the Smiths. The 49ers' best hope for slowing down the Packers on Sunday will be for Aldon Smith and Justin Smith to get some hits on quarterback Aaron Rodgers and disrupt the offense's timing.
Newhouse, a third-year pro from TCU, probably will not be able to handle either Aldon or Justin Smith straight up. Newhouse, who started 13 games for the Packers last season, has good feet but he does not possess great upper-body strength. The Packers are likely to use running back Cedric Benson to help out."He's improved this preseason from last season," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Newhouse. "They give their guys a lot of help, too. In particular, their back. They do a lot of chipping. But their offensive line, their tackles, are young guys that have played well for them, and we'll see if we're up to the challenge."On run downs, Justin Smith should be able to use his strength to clog things up. He was the 49ers team MVP last season. How in the world can he possibly improve over what he did last season when he was named All-Pro at defensive tackle and defensive end?"Anticipation of what the offense is trying to throw at you," Justin Smith said. "It's more film study not just watching it but understanding why they're doing it, and down and distance all those tendencies."Smith has been pouring over Packers film off and on since the schedule was released in mid-April, and he knew a road trip to Green Bay was the next game on the schedule."We've been watching it for a while now," he said. "We know they're going to give us some wrinkles. They do a good job of self-scouting as well. We're pretty much get prepared for them and go from there."

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


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


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.