The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Veteran LB Smith Released

Derek Smith, the 49ers most prolific tackler since signing a free-agent contract in 2001 from the Washington Redskins, was released Tuesday.

The team sent out an e-mail of the news at 11:00 a.m. and it contained a quote from head coach Mike Nolan. "Decisions like this are a difficult part of a great business. Derek has been an important member of the 49ers, and you don not make these kinds of decisions without battling the emotion that is natural when you are dealing with a player that has done so much for your organization. We made the decision because we have quality linebackers who we think are the future of the 49ers. Derek was a model professional during his seven seasons with the 49ers, and he influenced a lot of the younger players with his work ethic.

Smith was due to make $3.45 million in salary next season.Smith's agent, Frank Bauer, met with team general manager Scot McCloughan during the Senior Bowl last month to discuss options. The team never discussed a reduction with Smith. In his seven years with the team, Smith was durable and consistent, leading the team in tackles for five straight seasons. In 2005, he experienced his best season with a team-record 163 tackles according to 49ers coach's review.

The league, which handles official tackle statistics, put his tally at 116. Nevertheless, Smith clearly shined in a season where the 49ers won only four games and he was the co-recipient, along with kicker Joe Nedney, of the Bill Walsh award, which is given to the team MVP as determined by the coaching staff. Smith might be still on the team if he hadn't strained an eye muscle in 2006, which limited his effectiveness. He had to change his stance in order to alleviate the double-vision he experienced when he looked down. In typical Derek Smith fashion, he never told anyone about the injury until coaches went to him to ask him if something was wrong. He underwent corrective surgery last season, but didn't return to his 2005 self. By mid-season, Jeff Ulbrich replaced Smith in the team's nickel package. Knowing Smith, he probably looked upon his release as an opportunity for a new experience and a chance to sign with a potential Super Bowl-winning team.

While he never sought media attention, Smith was always honest and never shrank from the press when things went sour. In a rare moment in 2005, before the 49ers played Philadelphia and wide receiver Terrell Owens, Smith was outspoken about his former teammate, saying Owens wasn't an ideal teammate and needed to practice with his injury (a pulled groin). After the 42-3 loss in which Owens caught 5 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns, Smith was the last player to leave the locker room and answered every question. He did say that Owens had a big day a was a great player.

Smith also wore his hair long that season in tribute to his friend and former Arizona State teammate Pat Tillman, an army ranger who was killed in Afghanistan that year.

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