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.

Reuben Foster: Shoulder recovery on pace for training camp clearance

Reuben Foster: Shoulder recovery on pace for training camp clearance

SANTA CLARA – Linebacker Reuben Foster is likely to be a spectator when the 49ers hold their rookie minicamp next week.

But Foster said he is on pace to be fully cleared for football activity by the time the 49ers open training camp in late July. Recent national reports have suggested Foster would require another surgery on his right shoulder.

“That’s not accurate at all,” said Foster, who took part in a press conference on Friday after the 49ers selected him with the No. 31 overall pick in the draft on Thursday. “I’m fine. I’m on schedule.”

Foster said he sustained the tear of the labrum in his right shoulder during Alabama’s national semifinal game against Washington. He played in the championship game against Clemson with the injury.

He underwent surgery on his rotator cuff that forced him to sit out drills at the NFL scouting combine in February. Foster was sent home from Indianapolis after an argument with a hospital worker while he was waiting to undergo a physical.

There were reports Foster could require additional surgery after he went through the medical re-check in Indianapolis.

“I’m making big progress,” Foster said. “I’ll be limited in OTAs. Training camp, I’ll be full-go, but if it’s my decision, I think I can go now.”

Later, Foster said the 49ers have all of his medical information.

“I guarantee they have enough X-rays, exams, MRIs to know where I stand,” he said. “I had the surgery. They already knew how many weeks I was out.”

Foster dropped in the draft over apparent concerns about his shoulder and character issues. Alabama coach Nick Saban told AL.com on Thursday that Foster did not consult him before undergoing surgery.

"Look, the way we like for things to get handled, that didn't get handled," Saban said. "We have the best doctors in the world in Dr. (James) Andrews and Dr. (Lyle) Cain who operate on most NFL players and his agent chose to take him someplace else. I think (Andrews and Cain) have tremendous credibility.

"So, you know, all these choices and decisions that you make have consequences and I hate it for our players when they do it, but he didn't seek my advice in what he should do. So, if that was an issue, that was an issue. It shouldn't have been an issue but if it was, I don't really know much about it."

Report: 49ers TE Vance McDonald available for trade

Report: 49ers TE Vance McDonald available for trade

Vance McDonald is reportedly on the trade block.

The 49ers tight end is available, according to The Ringer's Michael Lombardi.

In December, McDonald inked a five-year extension, with the final two years being club options at base salaries of $5.5 million annually.

As NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco reported:

"McDonald receives a $7 million signing bonus, according to the figures obtained Tuesday by CSNBayArea.com. His base salary of $2.1 million for 2017 is fully guaranteed for skill and cap.

McDonald is scheduled to earn $3.7 million in base salary in 2018 and $4.2 million in 2019. In addition, McDonald has 46-man roster bonuses of $46,875 per game, which total $750,000 annually if he suits up for all 16 games. McDonald also has a scheduled $150,000              in annual workout bonuses for participating in 90 percent or more of the team’s offseason program.

The deal would make McDonald the 16th highest-paid tight end in the NFL if he collects all of his per-game roster bonuses.

If McDonald remains on the 49ers’ 90-man roster on April 1, 2018, all $3.7 million of his 2018 salary becomes fully guaranteed. If he’s on the roster on April 1, 2019, $3.2 million of his $4.2 base salary is fully guaranteed.

There are also incentives in the deal for receptions and receiving yards that begin with 55 receptions ($75,000) and 700 yards ($75,000)."

The 49ers took McDonald in the second round (55th overall) of the 2013 draft.

In 11 games last year, he caught 24 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

After making two selections in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, the 49ers enter Day 2 of the draft with two third-round picks -- No. 66 and No. 67 overall.

The 49ers also currently have two picks in the fourth round, two picks in the fifth round, two picks in the 6th round and one seventh round pick.