The 49ers feared that linebacker Malcolm Smith would be out of action for an extended period of time after he hurt his chest in practice over the weekend and their premonitions have been proven correct.
The team placed Smith on injured reserve Monday, which means he won’t be playing for them at all during the 2017 season. Smith has been diagnosed with a torn pectoral muscle.
Smith signed with the 49ers this offseason after spending the last two years with the Raiders. The move reunited him with defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who was on the Seahawks staff while Smith played in Seattle, and Smith was expected to fill a prominent role in their linebacking corps.
His injury opens up a spot for first-round pick Rueben Foster on the weak side of the defense. That move into the first team may be happening more quickly than the 49ers would have preferred, but they’ll need the rookie to pick things up quickly all the same.
The 49ers also announced that they have signed linebacker Austin Calitro. Calitro, who went undrafted out of Villanova, spent 10 days with the Jets in May.