The Chargers are looking for some defensive help, and today they did it in signing former San Francisco 49′ers linebacker Derek Smith. Reports have the Chargers and Smith agreeing on a two-year deal. Smith was released this past Tuesday in a cost-cutting move by the Niners, who watched Smith’s playing time go down with the emergence of Rookie of the Year Patrick Willis.
Smith still has a lot of gas in the tank at 33, and was a tackling machine with the Niners when he was playing there full time. As recent in 2005 he had 116 total tackles and one interception. This past season he did play in 15 games, and even not playing every down still had 78 tackles. He led the Niners from tackles from 2001-2005. The LB was due to make $4.5 mil this upcoming season.
Playing in a 3-4 scheme with Norv Turner, the Chargers are always on the lookout for linebackers that can come in and help with depth, and that is exactly the role that Smith will play. Smith was a third round draft pick of the Niners out of Arizona State back in 1997. Smith has played in 168 games during his 11 NFL seasons and tallied 1,092 tackles, 13 1/2 sacks and four interceptions.