The former Super Bowl MVP signed a five-year contract worth $26.5 million in March after spending 2016 with the Oakland Raiders.
In losing the presumed starter at weak-side linebacker, the 49ers will now be tasked with finding Smith’s replacement. Subsequent to Smith’s departure, first team reps were taken over by five-year veteran Ray-Ray Armstrong but that move may not be permanent.
The Smith injury could now open the door for rookie linebacker Reuben Foster, who was selected by San Francisco with the 31st overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
In his senior year at the University of Alabama, Foster recorded 115 tackles, including 13 for loss, and five sacks.
Foster was named a Consensus All-American in 2016 and also earned the Dick Butkus Award, presented to the nation’s best college linebacker, that same season.
Now that an opportunity has popped up with Smith’s injury, the pressure will be on Foster to prove to the 49ers coaching staff he is ready and capable of stepping into the role of starting linebacker.
So far this camp, Foster has come out swinging and made a name for himself early on as he has caught on to new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme very quickly.
Exhibiting a clear knack for getting to the ball, Foster has also recorded four interceptions in nine days practice to lead all players at camp.
More information regarding Smith’s injury and replacement is expected to come out in the coming days and a decision should be made relatively soon.