After reaching tentative deals with four offensive players, the 49ers appear to be closing in on bolstering their thin linebacker corps.
A league source confirms the 49ers have engaged in contract talks with the agent for Raiders free-agent linebacker Malcolm Smith. Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com first reported the mutual interest.
Smith is best-remembered for his interception of Colin Kaepernick's pass after Richard Sherman’s tip in the end zone on the throw intended for Michael Crabtree in the closing minute to preserve the Seahawks’ victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game in January 2014.
Smith went on to be named the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII, as he returned an interception for a touchdown and recovered a fumble in Seattle’s 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos.
Smith, who turns 27 in July, spent the past two seasons with the Raiders. He recorded 185 tackles and four sacks in 30 games after signing as a free agent in 2015.
He spent his first four seasons with the Seahawks. Robert Saleh, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, was a defensive quality control coach in Seattle during Smith’s first three NFL seasons.
NaVorro Bowman, who is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury, and Ray-Ray Armstrong are the 49ers’ only returning linebackers who have seen significant playing time.
Smith’s agent also represents wide receiver Pierre Garçon, with whom the 49ers on Wednesday reached an agreement. Deals cannot become official until Thursday at 1 p.m., the official opening of the free-agent signing period.
PHOENIX – Free-agent running back DuJuan Harris will re-sign with the 49ers, his agent said.
Harris, 28, appeared in 10 games for the 49ers last season with one start. He rushed for 138 yards on 38 attempts. He also caught eight passes for 115 yards.
Harris has also seen time with Jacksonville, Green Bay and Seattle in his four-year NFL career.
The 49ers did not tender Harris as a restricted free agent, but agent Andy Simms revealed his client will re-sign with the 49ers via Twitter. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley and defensive lineman Chris Jones are the only other free agents the 49ers have re-signed.
PHOENIX – Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins will continue to be Washington’s quarterback for the 2017 season, according to team president Bruce Allen.
“That’s why we franchised him, yes,” Allen said during an interview with CSN Mid-Atlantic at the NFL owners meetings.
Cousins and Washington did not reach agreement on a multi-year contract extension before the start of the free-agent signing period. Washington tagged Cousins as the organization’s exclusive franchise player, taking him off the free-agent market for any interested clubs, such as the 49ers.
Cousins is set to earn $23.94 million in 2017, unless the sides agree to a new deal before the July 15 deadline. The price for Cousins to be franchised again in 2018 would be $34.47 million.
"We’ve had a lot of dialogue," Allen said. "He signed his tender. Obviously, we have an option for the ’18 season. Our goal from the beginning has been long term. I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."
The 49ers with new coach Kyle Shanahan are expected to be interested in Cousins, but there have no trade talks with any teams, Allen said. Shanahan was Washington's offensive coordinator under his father, then-head coach Mike Shanahan, for Cousins' first two NFL seasons.
"I can't keep up with the rumors," Allen said. "Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven't talked to anyone."