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."

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. His uncertain status has led to speculation presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will be interested in acquiring him in the offseason.

On Sunday, Cousins got a first-hand look at his former coach’s offense.

Cousins posted a photo on Instagram from the stands at the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense blasted the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship game.

Cousins wrote the caption, “Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!”

Washington finished third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.

Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, coached Cousins for the first two seasons of his NFL career with Washington on the staff of his father, Mike Shanahan. Cousins appeared in just eight games with four starts in 2012 and ’13.

Cousins' career has taken off in the past two seasons while starting all 32 regular-season games. He completed 67 percent of his passes this season with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 97.2.

Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this season at nearly $20 million. He franchise tag is expected to be approximately $24 million in 2017.

If Washington places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, a team could sign him to an offer sheet at the cost of two first-round draft picks or negotiate a trade with Washington for a lesser amount.

Conflicting reports over Tomsula to Washington

Conflicting reports over Tomsula to Washington

Former 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula reportedly might be back in the NFL after a one-year hiatus.

Tomsula, who spent his first eight NFL seasons as a defensive line coach, could be returning to that job with Washington, Carol Maloney of NBC4 reported on Sunday. But according to the Washington Post, a deal is not done between the two sides.

If the deal were to happen Tomsula would be rejoining Washington defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and general manager Scot McCloughan, both of whom he worked with while members of the 49ers organization.

Tomsula was promoted to the head-coaching job over finalist Adam Gase two years ago after the 49ers' “mututal parting” with coach Jim Harbaugh. Tomsula was fired after the 49ers went 5-11 in 2015. Chip Kelly was hired to replace Tomsula. Kelly was fired after the 49ers went 2-14, including a franchise-worst 13-game losing streak.