Niners release LB Malcolm Smith after two seasons

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One of John Lynch's first signings as general manager of the San Francisco 49ers is no longer in their plans.

San Francisco is releasing veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith after just two seasons with the team, sources told NFL Network's Mike Garafolo on Tuesday. The team later announced the news.

A seventh-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2011, Smith was a part-time starter on Pete Carroll's Super Bowl teams. In Seattle's Super Bowl XLVIII victory, Smith recorded a pick-six and recovered a fumble en route to Super Bowl MVP honors. He left for Oakland in the spring of 2015 and found his way onto the 49ers' roster in March 2017 via a five-year, $26.5 million contract.

Smith missed the entire 2017 season with a torn pectoral. Upon his return in 2018, he played in 12 games, starting five, for the Niners. This offseason, San Francisco restructured his contract so that Smith would make around $1.3 million in base salary, per Spotrac.

Clearly, San Francisco's plans have changed.

"Malcolm is a guy that I have a ton of respect for," Niners coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters Tuesday. "I think he had an unfortunate time here, just especially the first year. We brought him in to be our backer, and he was, he had a great camp and then he tore his pec and missed a whole year. The next year, we got Fred (Warner) and he got that opportunity.

"Malcolm's handled himself with class the whole time, but I know it didn't go the way he wanted it to, nor how we expected it, but he was always the player we thought he was and the person. He's a guy I will always have a ton of respect for."

Smith's place on San Francisco's roster was always precarious given the 49ers' offseason acquisitions. San Francisco made big moves at the linebacker position this spring, trading for and extending Dee Ford and signing Kwon Alexander. The emergence of fifth-round pick Dre Greenlaw likely also played a role in Smith's release.

The 30-year-old linebacker should see action on the open market, especially with cutdown day looming.

Smith's failure in Santa Clara is an indictment of Lynch's early signings, many of which including Smith and Pierre Garcon have not panned out. San Francisco is hoping the first-time GM's latest investments at the LB position fare far better.

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