UPDATE (7:21pm PT on Saturday): The 49ers confirmed Saturday evening that linebacker Malcolm Smith has a torn pectoral muscle.
Confirming that #49ers LB Malcolm Smith has in fact suffered a torn pectoral muscle. The team wishes Malcolm all the best in his recovery.— Bob Lange (@49ersPR) August 6, 2017
UPDATE (4:22pm PT on Saturday): 49ers linebacker Malcolm Smith will miss the entire 2017 season due to a torn pec muscle, according to NFL Network.
SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are concerned veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith, the team’s top free-agent acquisition on defense, sustained a long-term injury during practice on Saturday.
Smith exited practice at Levi’s Stadium with an injury to his right upper body. The team fears Smith may have sustained an injury to his pectoral that could place his season in jeopardy.
Coach Kyle Shanahan disclosed that Smith’s “chest” injury could keep him sidelined for a while. Smith is expected to undergo an MRI examination to reveal the extent of the injury and whether surgery will be required.
Smith’s condition is likely to open the door for rookie linebacker Reuben Foster to move into the starting lineup at the weakside linebacker position.
Smith signed a five-year, $26.5 million as a free agent because he is considered a system fit for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme. Smith and Saleh were together with the Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers traded with the Seahawks to acquire the No. 31 overall pick to select Foster, whom the club had ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in the draft.
Saleh made clear last week that Foster would have to earn his way into up the team’s depth chart.
“The best way I can explain with Reuben is he'll get his opportunity when he absolutely, absolutely deserves it,” Saleh said. “The credit really goes to the backers in that room also, that they also deserve every opportunity that they're getting as well as him.”