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Chargers sign linebacker Smith to two-year deal

Veteran linebacker Derek Smith, released Tuesday by the San Francisco 49ers, agreed to a two-year deal with the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Smith, whose role with the 49ers was assumed last season by rookie Patrick Willis, will bolster San Diego's inside linebackers group. He spent the last seven seasons with the Niners, and the Chargers immediately contacted him in hopes of adding a wealth of experience to their group of young but talented linebackers.

"The day he was released we had great interest," Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith said. "We like our inside linebackers but we are young at the position. We love the possiblity of mixing youth with experience. Derek brings a wealth of experience and we're happy to have him aboard."

Smith was San Francisco's leading tackler for five consecutive seasons from 2001-05. He's spent the last three years playing in a 3-4 defense, exactly what the Chargers play in San Diego. Smith has played in 168 games during his 11 NFL seasons and started 163. Where exactly he'll fit in with the Bolts is yet to be determined.

"He's tough, physical and a great competitor who will be added to the mix and the coaches will decide his role," Smith said.

Derek Smith was drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1997 and played four seasons under Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner, who was the head coach in Washington from 1994-2000.

"Derek brings experience, a real knowledge of the game and knowledge of this league," Turner said. "He's a physical player and an outstanding tackler. He's been a very productive player the last few years in San Francisco."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report

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