Former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith will be changing teams again, but he’ll be staying in Northern California. After a two-year stint with the Oakland Raiders, the Super Bowl 48 MVP has agreed to a five-year, $26.5 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers.
Smith is best known for being at the right place at the right time when he was on the Seahawks. His first career NFL touchdown was a jumbled mess of a Patrick Peterson muffed punt, which he recovered in the end zone to help Seattle stomp Arizona 58-0. Far more importantly, Smith did these two things:
Smith also recovered a fumble in Seattle’s Super Bowl smashing of Denver, and (somewhat controversially) was awarded game MVP honors. His 2014 season was ... not very good, and the 2011 seventh-round draft pick left the team in free agency and signed with the Raiders.
During his time in Oakland, Smith led the team in tackles, only missed two games out of thirty-three (including postseason), intercepted two passes, forced five fumbles, and was credited with nine passes defensed. He also had four sacks in the 2015 campaign, but none in 2016. The glaring weakness in Smith’s game is pass coverage against TEs. Oakland ranked 23rd in DVOA against TEs this past season, a huge drop from when they were 10th in 2015, and Smith was a major culprit for that decline in performance. Smith was given a grade of just 49.7 from Pro Football Focus for his 2016 season, putting him closer to the bottom-tier of starting linebackers.
For Smith, it’s another financial step-up for him. He went from making about $2 million total in four seasons with the Seahawks, to a decent $7 million deal with the Raiders, to a long-term contract with San Francisco, who will also be giving him $13 million guaranteed. So the man who denied the 49ers a second-straight Super Bowl appearance will be a major part of their defense heading into next season. It certainly helps spice up the sputtering Seahawks-49ers rivalry.