49ers

Malcolm Smith to miss 2017 season; could open door for Foster

Malcolm Smith to miss 2017 season; could open door for Foster

UPDATE (7:21pm PT on Saturday): The 49ers confirmed Saturday evening that linebacker Malcolm Smith has a torn pectoral muscle.

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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.

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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.”

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

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AP

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

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AP

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

One week after center Jeremy Zuttah played his way off the 49ers’ roster in short order, he ended up back with the team that got rid of him to open the offseason.

The Baltimore Ravens on Friday announced the signing of Zuttah, whom the 49ers released on Aug. 9 after acquiring him from the Ravens in a March trade.

The 49ers determined center Daniel Kilgore was clearly better than Zuttah. Moreover, Zuttah he did not demonstrate any promise of being an asset at either of the guard positions.

Zuttah, 31, played the past three seasons with the Ravens after six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Zuttah was named to his first Pro Bowl after last season.

The 49ers originally acquired Zuttah in a swap of sixth-round draft picks. The Ravens received the 49ers’ pick at No. 186 and selected Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark. The 49ers took over Baltimore’s selection at No. 198 and chose Mississippi defensive tackle D.J. Jones.

The 49ers are confident in Kilgore and offensive tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown. However, there is concern at the guard positions.

Brandon Fusco appears to be earning the confidence of the coaching staff at right guard. But left guard remains a concern. Zane Beadles is currently the starter while Joshua Garnett rehabs from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage. The 49ers are hopeful Garnett will be available for the opening of the regular season.