Justin Smith turns 34 in September and enters his 13th NFL season. He is spending this offseason rehabbing after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn triceps tendon in his left arm. His contract expires after the season.
[MAIOCCO: Justin Smith rehab on schedule]
Not only do the 49ers have to plan for the future, they must begin a rotation along the defensive line to keep Smith and Ray McDonald fresh.
The 49ers went four deep on their defensive line last season, and two of those players signed elsewhere as free agents. The defensive line figures to be a spot the 49ers will look to address early in next week's draft.
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Who's here: Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Glenn Dorsey, Ian Williams, Will Tukuafu, Demarcus Dobbs, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Lamar Divens
Draft needs: Williams did not take any significant snaps at nose tackle in his first two NFL seasons, yet the 49ers awarded him $1 million as part of a contract extension. The team needs help on the defensive line after losing Isaac Sopoga (Philadelphia) and Ricky Jean Francois (Indianapolis) in free agency. Dorsey is slated to start at nose. Smith and McDonald return at the other starting spots on the 3-man line. The 49ers must take advantage of a strong class of linemen to beef up this position because there are currently no proven linemen reserves on the roster.
Good fits: If the 49ers stick with their top two picks at No 31 and 34, the defensive line is definitely in play. And there are a lot of different options. Sheldon Richardson (Missouri) is not expected to be available this late in the first round. But some of the options for the 49ers include Jesse Williams (Alabama), Sylvester Williams (North Carolina), Tank Carradine (Florida State), Datone Jones (UCLA), Margus Hunt (SMU) and Kawann Short (Purdue). In the past, the 49ers have gone after more versatile players than 346-pound John Jenkins (Georgia), who is a fit at only nose tackle.