McDonald, Smith form fine DE duo


McDonald, Smith form fine DE duo

SANTA CLARA -- If you wanted to see Ray McDonald in the summer months during the NFL lockout, all you had to do was find Justin Smith. The odds were pretty good that the two 49ers defensive linemen were working out with each other.
McDonald's game has taken off this season as a starter for the 49ers at left defensive end. He clearly has benefited from being around Smith, who starts at right defensive end and usually plays every defensive snap.Coach Jim Harbaugh might have given the 49ers a full six days off during the bye week, but McDonald and Smith were regulars at the team's practice facility last week -- just as they were regulars almost every day during the lockout at San Jose State's workout facilities."I always joke with him about how old he is," McDonald said. "But you know what? When I was in high school I was a big fan of his because I liked the way he played."In 2008, McDonald's second NFL season, the 49ers signed Smith to a six-year contract as a free agent from the Cincinnati Bengals.
"I wanted to pick his brain and see what kind of guy he was," McDonald said. "He turned out to be a real good guy. We both love the game of football. Both of us are down-to-earth, cool people. When there are two people like that, you get along real well."McDonald, 27, remained in-state and went to Florida. Likewise, Smith, 32, remained close to home to go to Missouri. And neither strayed too far from home during the bye week, either."I just wanted to stay here and stay in the football mindset," McDonald said. "I wanted to be here and kick back and relax. And I didn't want to have all that jet lag coming back."It's no coincidence that Smith (4.5) and McDonald (3) have combined for 7.5 sacks in the first six games -- a large figure for defensive ends in a 3-4 defense. After all, they worked out hard on their own and talked shop during the lockout just to be ready when the NFL finally opened its doors for business."We worked out quite a bit," McDonald said. "He has a wife and kids, so I let him do his family thing. And I did my own thing, too. But when we can, we try to hang out and talk football."McDonald went through the offseason with the uncertainty of being unsigned. When the lockout lifted, the 49ers and McDonald agreed to a five-year, 20 million contract.The 49ers invested more in McDonald than any other player in the offseason. The only higher-priced acquisition in the organization was coach Jim Harbaugh at five years, 25 million."When you're in a good situation, and I've been in a good situation the past four years, you want to stay in that place," McDonald said. "The grass isn't always greener on the other side. If I'd gone somewhere else, it wouldn't have been as good as it is. I probably wouldn't have clicked as well as Justin and I have clicked on this team."

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.