49ers fear LB Malcolm Smith has serious chest injury

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The 49ers fear veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith has a serious pectoral injury, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area.

Smith, the team’s top free-agent aquisition on defense, excited practice at Levi’s Stadium. Coach Kyle Shanahan revealed that Smith’s chest injury could keep him sidelined for a while. Smith was scheduled to undergo an MRI.

Smith signed a five-year, $26.5 million deal with the 49ers after two seasons in Oakland. He was seen as a system fit after previously playing for 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh in Seattle.

Smith’s absence will open the door for Reuben Foster to start at weakside linebacker. The 49ers made Foster the 31st overall pick, trading with the Seahawks to move up to acquire the Alabama linebacker.

Saleh said last week Foster would have to earn his way onto the field.

“The best way I can explain with Reuben is he’ll get his opportunity when he absolutely, absolutely deserves it,” Saleh said. “The credit really goes to the backers in that room also, that they also deserve every opportunity that they’re getting as well as him.”