Saturday, March 1, 2008
49ers lock up defensive end Smith with 6-year, $45 million deal
By Michael Smith
The San Franciso 49ers signed defensive end Justin Smith to a six-year, $45 million contract that included $20 million in guarantees.
After meeting with the 49ers coaching staff and taking a helicopter tour of San Francisco, Smith decided to cancel planned visits to Minnesota and Jacksonville and sign with the 49ers instead.
"The reason I decided to cancel my other visits is meeting with the coaching staff here," Smith said. "From top to bottom it's a first-class organization and when you get in a situation like that it's a no-brainer. I think I'll be a great fit."
Smith, who had played all of his seven previous seasons in the NFL in Cincinnati, was given the franchise tag by the Bengals in 2007.
The Niners were tied for 21st in the NFL last season with only 31 sacks. Bryant Young, who led the team with 6½ sacks, retired after the season leaving a big void at end.
Smith had at least five sacks in each of his first six seasons with the Bengals before recording only two last season. He has led the Bengals defensive line in tackles in each of the past six seasons.
Smith was the fourth overall pick in the 2001 draft out of Missouri. He has 43½ career sacks but managed only two last season. Smith has played in 16 games every season except his rookie campaign when he made 15 appearances.
Michael Smith covers the NFL for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.