The 49ers released veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith on Tuesday, which signals a vote of confidence for rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw, Matt Maiocco of NBC Bayarea reports.
Smith, 30, was one of the defensive centerpieces of the first day of 2017 free agency when the 49ers signed him to a five year, $26.5 million contract. However, Smith missed the entire 2017 season with a torn pectoral. He appeared in 12 games last season, including five starts.
The 49ers signed wide receiver Nick Willams to fill the roster spot ahead of the team’s final preseason game on Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Williams entered the NFL in 2013 as an undrafted rookie with Washington, where 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator. He also spent time with Atlanta, Tennessee, the Los Angeles Rams and Denver, appearing in 26 games and catching 30 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns.