49ers key matchup No. 2: Smith vs. Solder

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49ers key matchup No. 2: Smith vs. Solder

This is the second part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Patriots matchups to watch Sunday, 5:20 p.m. (NBC), at Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.

49ers OLB Aldon Smith vs. Patriots LT Nate Solder

Tale of the tape
Smith (99): 6-foot-4, 258 pounds, second season, Missouri
Solder (77): 6-foot-8, 320 pounds, second season, Colorado

This matchup is one of the huge storylines because of its potential historical significance.

Outside linebacker Aldon Smith is chasing Michael Strahan's single-season NFL sacks record. And if Smith has the kind of game against New England Patriots left tackle Nate Solder that he enjoyed when they met in college, he'll equal Strahan's record, which he set with the New York Giants in 2001.

Smith leads the NFL with 19.5 sacks, a 49ers single-season record. In 2009, Smith, as a redshirt freshman, Smith recorded three sacks against Colorado in Missouri's 36-17 victory. Smith was matched against Solder for most of that day. (Smith claims he had four sacks, but official stats show him with three sacks and another tackle for a loss.) The 49ers chose Smith with the No. 7 overall pick in last year's draft, while Solder went to the Patriots with the 17th overall selection.

There's added incentive for Smith to pile up more sacks. Smith announced this week that he will donate $5,099 for each sack he records during the regular season to the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco (Willy Mays Clubhouse at Hunters Point) and Boys & Girls Clubs of The Peninsula (East Palo Alto Clubhouse).

"I am excited to be able to give back to my community," Smith said. "Now, in addition to playing to win games, I am playing to raise much-needed money for a great organization that makes a huge difference in the lives of millions of young people."

Smith will have a much more difficult task on Sunday night than he had against Colorado in 2009. Missouri racked up eight sacks against Colorado that day. And, obviously, Solder is much-improved since that time. According to Pro Football Focus' grading system, Solder ranks as the No. 10 left tackle in the NFL. He has surrendered just three sacks, five quarterback hits and 25 quarterback hurries on the season.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been sacked just 20 times in 13 games. The Patriots rank fourth-best in the league in sacks allowed per pass play. Brady gets rid of the ball quickly with a lot of success. He averages 2.49 seconds (quickest in the NFL) before either throwing, scrambling past the line of scrimmage or taking a sack, according to PFF. Brady has a 74.2 completion percentage and a 111.0 passer rating when getting rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds or less.

For more on the Smith-Solder matchup, please read, "Aldon Smith worked over Patriots left tackle in college."

49ers 2017 UDFA tracker: Southern Miss QB reportedly agrees to terms

49ers 2017 UDFA tracker: Southern Miss QB reportedly agrees to terms

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are reportedly adding a fourth quarterback to their 90-man roster.

Nick Mullens a four-year starter at Southern Mississippi, agreed to terms with the 49ers after the conclusion of the Saturday’s NFL draft, he told the Hattiesburg American.

As a senior, Mullens completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 3,272 yards with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Mullens joins a quarterback group that includes starter Brian Hoyer, backup Matt Barkley and third-round draft pick C.J. Beathard.

Other reported 49ers free-agent agreements include:

--RB Matt Breida, Georgia Southern: In three seasons at Georgia Southern, Breida rushed for 3,740 yards and 37 touchdowns while averaging 6.9 yards a carry. (Tampa Bay Times)

--OL Erik Magnuson, Michigan: Magnuson (6-6, 305) was a first-team All-Big Ten performer who started every game at right tackle. He announced on Twitter that he has agreed to terms with the 49ers.

--WR Kendrick Bourne, Eastern Washington: He caught 211 passes for 3,130 yards and 27 touchdowns in his four-year career. Bourne (6-1, 203) had his best season as a senior, with 79 receptions for 1,201 yards and seven touchdowns. Eastern Washington announced Bourne’s three-year contract.

--OT Darrell Williams Jr., Western Kentucky: Williams (6-5, 315) started 41 games. He played his final two seasons at right tackle after moving from right guard. Western Kentucky announced the contract agreement with the 49ers.

--WR KD Cannon, Baylor: Cannon caught 195 passes for 3,113 and 27 touchdowns in his three-year career. He turned pro after a junior season in which he caught 87 passes for 1,215 yards and 13 touchdowns. He announced his contract agreement with the 49ers via Twitter.

--DB Lorenzo Jerome, Saint Francis (PA): Jerome, a Senior Bowl invite, was named first-team FCS All-American. He intercepted six passes in 2016 with 59 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 11 pass break-ups. He added a touchdown on a kickoff return. (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

--LB Jimmie Gilbert, Colorado (Denver Post)

--OL J.P. Flynn, Montana (NEPatriotsdraft.com)

--DE Noble Nwachukwu, West Virginia (NEPatriotsdraft.com)

--TE Cole Hikutini, Louisville (NFL Network)

--LB Donavin Newsom, Missouri (Columbia Daily Tribune)

--WR Victor Bolden, Oregon State (Bolden via Twitter)

Lynch: TE McDonald to return to 49ers after being on trade block

Lynch: TE McDonald to return to 49ers after being on trade block

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers explored trade options for veteran tight end Vance McDonald during the three-day draft, but he is scheduled be back with the team when the club reports Monday for the fourth week of the offseason program.

“I think that’s the reality of new regimes coming, new schemes,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Saturday at the conclusion the seven-round draft. “That’s not to say that he can’t fit into our scheme. Frankly, we received some interest from some other people, then we did explore some options throughout the league with Vance. Nothing ended up happening, so Vance will come back and have an opportunity to compete.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he called McDonald on Friday night to keep him updated on the team’s though process in pursuing trade options. McDonald was at his brother’s wedding, Shanahan said, so he left him a long voice message. McDonald responded Saturday morning with a text. Shanahan said the two men will speak on Monday in Santa Clara.

“We did take over a 2-14 team,” Shanahan said. “We don’t feel all the answers are here right now. We have a lot of work to do. We need to improve in any way possible. And we’re going to do that. We’re going to do that from an organizational standpoint. How can we improve the building? How can we improve the coaching staff? How can we improve the personnel department? How can we improve the players?

“Just from Vance’s text back, I think people understand that. I think it does make sense. I don’t think that’s something personal.”

Former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke signed off on a five-year contract extension for McDonald in December that consisted of a $7 million signing bonus. McDonald appeared in 11 games last season, catching 24 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns. The 49ers acquired McDonald as a second-round draft pick 2013. In 48 career games, McDonald has 64 receptions for 866 yards and seven touchdowns.

The 49ers signed veteran tight end Logan Paulsen in the offseason. On Saturday, the 49ers selected Iowa tight end George Kittle in the fifth round of the draft. Kittle joins fellow tight ends McDonald, Garrett Celek, Paulsen, Blake Bell and Je’Ron Hamm on the 49ers’ 90-man roster.