49ers Release Former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith

Malcolm Smith breaks the pass intended for Giant's tight end Evan Engram in 2018. Photo by Peter Joneleit/CSM/Shutterstock

San Francisco 49ers are moving on from linebacker Malcolm Smith. The team announced on Tuesday that they are releasing Smith, bringing to an end his two-year tenure with the organization.

In a corresponding move, 49ers signed wide receiver Nick Williams, adding badly needed depth to their WR core.

Smith signed a five-year, $26.5 million deal with the 49ers in 2017, becoming one of the first acquisitions of general manager John Lynch. His stint with San Francisco started badly, however, as he suffered a torn pectoral muscle during training camp and was sidelined for the entire season.

After returning to action in 2018, Smith saw limited action, starting only five games in which he recorded 35 tackles and one pass defended. Although he reworked his deal with San Francisco in the offseason to try and keep his roster spot, the injury issues and emergence of other players eventually made him expendable.

“We brought him in to be our ‘backer, and he was,” – said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan of Smith’s release. “Malcolm has 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.”

Malcolm Smith entered the league in 2011 when Seattle Seahawks took him in the seventh round of the draft. After encouraging two seasons with the team, Smith had a breakthrough season in 2013 which included a standout performance Super Bowl XLVIII game against the Denver Broncos. In that game, he made ten tackles, pass deflection, a fumble recovery, and returned an interception for a touchdown.  This earned Smith Super Bowl MVP honors, and he became only the seventh defensive player to win this award.

Smith played one more season in Seattle after this, before signing with Oakland Raiders. He ended up spending two productive years with Oakland before joining 49ers.