Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com is reporting that the 49ers are negotiating (four days early) with defensive end Justin Smith.
Smith, a seven year veteran, played in 16 games for the Bengals last year and had 78 tackles with 2 sacks. He has 466 tackles and 43.5 sacks in his career. He was drafted in 2001 out of Missouri.
An NFC source said Sunday he expects Bengals right end Justin Smith to go to the 49ers in free agency ("They were working on the deal last night," the source said), but he's shocked Mike Nolan is going to make Smith a 3-4 end, as well as drop him in coverage.
At 270 pounds, Smith has been relentless and good against the run during his seven seasons in Cincinnati but the source has some doubt Smith can hold up in a 3-4. Still, Smith is going to give supreme effort wherever he plays and that can overcome plenty.