49ers key matchup No. 3: Justin Smith vs. Chilo Rachal

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49ers key matchup No. 3: Justin Smith vs. Chilo Rachal

This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Bears matchups to watch Monday, 5:30 p.m. (ESPNCBS 5), at Candlestick Park.49ers DT Justin Smith vs. Bears LG Chilo RachalTale of the tape
Smith (94): 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, 12th season, Missouri
Rachal (62): 6-foot-5, 323 pounds, fifth season, USCDespite coming nowhere near producing the gaudy statistics of a year ago, defensive tackle Justin Smith still has a hand in just about everything on the 49ers' defense.Outside linebacker Aldon Smith is on pace to eclipse the sack total of his rookie season. And Justin Smith -- with no sacks of his own through nine games -- certainly deserves some of the credit. Aldon Smith has 9.5 sacks in nine games after recording 14 sacks in his first year.Justin Smith will be matched most of Monday night against Chilo Rachal, who holds the distinction of being the only 49ers player since coach Jim Harbaugh's arrival to lose his starting job due solely to poor performance.Rachal, a second-round pick in 2008, entered last season as the starting right guard. But after struggling immensely in his first 2 12 games, Rachal was benched at halftime of the 49ers' Week 3 win at the Cincinnati Bengals. He never started another game for the 49ers, and was not offered a contract as a free agent.Rachal signed a one-year, 700,000 contract with the Chicago Bears. He moved into the Bears' starting lineup in Week 3 when Chris Spencer was benched. Rachal will face Justin Smith, one of the league's most difficult matchups for any offensive lineman."I'm sure it'll be a good battle," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "Chilo obviously knows Justin from practicing against him here for the few years that he was here."Part of Justin Smith's game is to overpower the left guard and steer him into the left tackle to open a gaping hole through which Aldon Smith can enter for a free run at the quarterback. If Justin Smith is able to shove around Rachal, that could mean big things Monday night for Aldon Smith.It's the kind of action that New York Giants Kevin Gilbride complained about earlier this season when he said -- much to Harbaugh's objection -- that Justin Smith "gets away with murder."Said Fangio, "Theres a lot of hand-fighting and guys get grabbed both ways," Fangio said. "And there's nothing illegal about it or anything. It's just normal hand play."

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

PHOENIX -- If the Cleveland Browns’ only reasonable decision with the top overall pick consists of Myles Garrett or Myles Garrett, the 49ers have considerably more options at No. 2 overall.

After Garrett, the Texas A&M pass-rusher, there appears to be no consensus second-best prospect in the draft. So the 49ers must be open to considering almost anything.

“You got to talk about every option because you never know what will happen,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You got to be ready for anything somebody will call you on, whether it’s a trade or not. So you got to go through those because they can happen quickly, especially when you get closer to draft day.

“Right now, it’s not necessarily in my mind the No. 2 pick. It’s taking the time to understand the whole pool of people. Who’s going to be available at two? Who’s going to be available halfway through the first round? What are the players you can get in the second and third round? That’s not something that just gets done. You have to watch a lot of tape. You got to listen to your scouts and all the homework they’ve done with the character on these guys and soak it all in for a couple of months.”

Shanahan was on hand Thursday for Stanford’s pro day, during which defensive lineman Solomon Thomas worked out. Thomas is considered a strong candidate to be the No. 2 player off the board.

But does Thomas fit with the 49ers? Under former general manager Trent Baalke, the 49ers invested their top draft picks in Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in back-to-back years. Would the 49ers consider spending their top pick on another defensive lineman?

“It really doesn’t concern me what we’ve done in the past or what we’re going to do in the future,” Shanahan said. “It’s what we have now. If we think that player can help us and improve us, then that’s what we’ll do. You want to get the best guy possible. There are lots of options open.”

As the 49ers transition to a four-man defensive line, the team is in need or a pass-rusher. Ahmad Brooks tied with Buckner for the team-lead last season with six sacks. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch tied for tops on the 49ers with 6.5 sacks.

Brooks, 33, enters his 12th NFL season. Shanahan said he believes Thomas (6 foot 3, 273 pounds) is versatile enough to be a pass-rush threat at defensive end in the 49ers’ new scheme.

“I believe so,” Shanahan said. “I believe he can probably line up anywhere he wants. (But I’m) still not done with my research, yet.”

Thomas won the 2017 Morris Trophy, as the Pac-12’s top defensive lineman, as voted on by the conference’s offensive linemen.

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

PHOENIX – The 49ers had a recent visit with Tampa Bay free-agent defensive end Jacquies Smith, general manager John Lynch confirmed on Sunday.

Smith, 27, sustained a torn right ACL in the Buccaneers’ season opener in September while running down the field on punt coverage against the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers gave Smith a physical during his visit to Santa Clara. The club has yet to make a contract offer, Lynch said.

"We wanted to get him checked out medically, and we’ll see," Lynch said at the NFL owners meetings.

Smith (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) recorded 6.5 sacks in 2014 and seven sacks in 2015 for the Buccaneers.

After going undrafted in 2012 out of Missouri, Smith signed with Miami. He spent time with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League before landing on the New York Jets’ practice squad. Smith worked his way into the Buccaneers’ defensive-line rotation in ’14 after being claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.

The Buccaneers gave Smith the low tender of $1.797 million as a restricted free agent. Any team can sign Smith to an offer sheet. Tampa Bay would have the right of first refusal but would get no compensation if the team chooses not to match the contract.

With 71 players under contract, the 49ers have $74.5 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association.