Justin Smith knows his priorities


Justin Smith knows his priorities

The 49ers public relations staff scheduled Justin Smith to appear at the podium to speak to the media about the team’s upcoming game against the Dolphins. The 12 year veteran didn’t show. He was lifting weights.

It’s one of the few things in the NFL the defensive end has missed. Smith never misses a workout or a start and very rarely a tackle. He entered the starting line up the fifth game of his rookie year and hasn’t come out since. To date, that’s 183 consecutive regular season starts. The streak began back on October 21, 2001 and more than doubles the next closest defensive lineman on the list, Minnesota’s Jared Allen (90).

Smith’s durability and ability to play at such high levels at the age of 33 is uncanny. He is only two tackles shy of his total from all of last season and already has more assists and combined tackles. His three sacks and nine quarterback hits are both third most on the team. He has also tallied a pass defensed and a fumble recovery. And there are four games still on the schedule to accomplish more.

Smith’s intense drive and workouts have taken on somewhat of a legendary status around the league. Clearly, whatever he’s doing, works. The media can wait.

Smith did eventually hold a group interview in the locker room after he finished. He stepped in front of reporters and opened the line of questioning appropriately for a man nicknamed Cowboy.

“Shoot,” said Smith, and the questions began.


QUESTION: Does it come across your radar that Aldon’s 5 sacks away from breaking Michael Strahan’s single season sack record:

JS: Well, first and foremost, everybody’s worried about getting a win. That’s first and foremost. But he’s chasing history, and he’s going to keep doing what he does to make the plays and help the team win. And along the way if he gets the record, so be it. We’re all pulling for him, and we’re pretty confident he will.

QUESTION: We’ve all written about his physical attributes, but what is his personality like and how does that help him?

JS: He’s a hard worker, studies in the room, knowing the scheme, knowing when you can take your opportunities, knowing when you can take that 1-on-1 block, when they’re going chip you, how to defeat all those separate blocks. And he doesn’t hurt us in the run either. I think a lot of time guys chasing all these sacks will hurt you in the run. He hasn’t hurt us in the run. He’s helped us in the run. He’s an all around great player. That’s what you have to be to be a good defense. You can’t just have guys out there with selfish goals. He’s done it along with helping the team win football games. That’s our ultimate goal here.

QUESTION: How much do you communicate with him now as opposed to his rookie year when he first started playing behind you?

JS: The one thing about great football players is they come in and they’re pretty good from the get go. You know, Aldon, got better as last year progressed and then just blew up. I mean, that’s a tribute to him being a great football player. He just continues to get better and non-verbal communication, and all those type of things you can do to become even better, pre-snap reads, all those things, he’s just done everything to take his game to another level and it keeps going up.

QUESTION: Do you take as much as pride in those sacks, too?

JS: Aldon does a great job not matter what we’re doing, the stunts, the 1-on-1 pass rush, he’s doing the work and he’s getting it done himself too. We take pride as a defense. That’s the thing. Records, this and that, that’s great and he feels the same way. It’s all about winning these games, getting to the playoffs and ultimately, hopefully win a Super Bowl and hopefully that record falls on the way there.

QUESTION: What do you see in [Miami QB] Ryan Tannehill that this defense can take advantage of?

JS: You know, I think the course of the year he’s played pretty well. For a rookie coming in, he’s pretty poised in the pocket, gets the ball out pretty quick on timing routes. They do a good job. They try to stick with running the ball. They’ve become a bit even a little more right handed with Jake Long being out. That’s to be seen. I think they’re overall a pretty good team. And a lot of those games they lost, two were in overtime, a lot of them being tight games, it’s going to be a pretty good match up.

QUESTION: Where does he rank among the other quarterbacks you’ve faced in terms of athleticism and being able to hurt you with his feet?

JS: I think like any quarterback, they’re not many that are just stuck in mud back there. We saw [Sam] Bradford take off on us a couple of times in three man rush. They can all make plays. I feel as far as his athleticism, he’s a pretty athletic guy, tall, can move, can throw the ball. You know everything you look for in a good young quarterback. He’s 23, 24, he can run.

QUESTION: With Jake Long out at left tackle, do you know what Jonathan Martin’s game is about?

JS: He’s a serviceable tackle in this league. It’s definitely not Long in there. But there are things you can do. You can chip, you can slide the line, you can do some more bootlegs, which is a big part of their offense as well, to help him out. So we kind of anticipate all those type of deals going on.

-Pause by reporters –

JS: We good?

Interview over.

49ers linebacker Foster named to NFL All-Rookie team


49ers linebacker Foster named to NFL All-Rookie team

Linebacker Reuben Foster was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America.

Foster started all 10 games in which he appeared for the 49ers after being selected with the No. 31 overall pick out of Alabama. Foster finished second on the 49ers with 72 tackles. He had seven tackles for loss, ranking No. 2 on the team behind rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

Foster was one of three linebackers selected as an all-rookie performer. Thomas, the No. 3 overall draft pick, was not among the four defensive linemen honored.

[MAIOCCO: Ex-agent says Reuben Foster's arrest could void salary guarantees]

Foster was selected as the winner of the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. He missed five games early in the season with a high ankle sprain and another game with a ribs injury.

The NFL’s top defensive rookie was New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who recorded five interceptions and scored a touchdown while making 13 starts.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
CO-OFFENSIVE ROOKIES OF THE YEAR: RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs and RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: CB Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints

QB – Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
RB – Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs; Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
WR – Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams; Juju Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
TE – Evan Engram, New York Giants
C – Pat Elflein, Minnesota Vikings
G – Dan Feeney, Los Angeles Chargers; Jermaine Eluemunor, Baltimore Ravens, and Ethan Pocic, Seattle Seahawks (tie)
T – Garett Bolles, Denver Broncos; Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans Saints

DL – Derek Barnett, Philadelphia Eagles; Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns; Carl Lawson, Cincinnati Bengals; Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants
LB – Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions; Reuben Foster, San Francisco 49ers; T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
CB – Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints; Tre'Davious White, Buffalo Bills
S – Jamal Adams, New York Jets; Marcus Williams, New Orleans Saints

Special Teams
PK – Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs
P – Rigoberto Sanchez, Indianapolis Colts
KR – Ryan Switzer, Dallas Cowboys
PR – Jamal Agnew, Detroit Lions
ST – Budda Baker, Arizona Cardinals

Ex-agent says Reuben Foster's arrest could void salary guarantees


Ex-agent says Reuben Foster's arrest could void salary guarantees

Reuben Foster’s arrest Friday night on marijuana charges in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is likely to void $2.5 million in salary guarantees, according to a former NFL agent.

Joel Corry, appearing on the 49ers Insider Podcast, said there is language in Foster’s contract that voids the salary guarantees if he is fined under the NFL’s Policy on Substances of Abuse.

“Typically with veteran contracts, you must be suspended . . . in order to have contract guarantees void,” said Corry, whose work appears on CBS Sports. “What we’ve seen in rookie deals is they’ve extended that to getting fined, as well.”

According to a league source familiar with the 49ers’ structure on rookie contracts, the team’s standard practice is to void guarantees with fines. The 49ers were not harder on Foster because of a failed drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine due to a diluted sample.

Foster was released on $2,500 bond on Friday evening after being booked on second-degree marijuana possession, according to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office.

Under the NFL’s Policy on Substances of Abuse, the first offense for a violation of Stage Two, if marijuana, includes a fine equivalent to the pay of two game checks.

In Foster’s original contract, his entire scheduled salaries of $875,708 in 2018 and $1.286 million in 2019 were fully guaranteed. In addition, $339,000 of his scheduled $1.697 salary in 2020 was guaranteed.

“What that means is,” Corry said, “he doesn’t get the money, no matter what, any more. But he can still make the same money that’s in the contract on a non-guaranteed basis, but you don’t have the same security as you did before.

“So if his rookie year turns out to be an anomaly or off-the-field issues end up being problematic, it gives the 49ers more latitude to either ask him a pay cut or to release him.”

Foster started all 10 games in which he appeared for the 49ers as a rookie. The first-round draft pick from Alabama recorded 72 tackles.