Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports


Free Agent Profile: Preston Smith

Matthew Barr
Feb 15, 2019 at 12:00 PM


The EDGE position being one of need for the San Francisco 49ers is no secret. Since Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch took over the franchise in 2017, the position has not been properly addressed. Late-round draft picks, fringe free agency signings and holdovers from the previous regimes have populated the depth chart on the exterior of the defensive line. As it stands right now, the depth chart is a "who's who" of "who?" Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh's defensive scheme requires consistent pressure on the quarterback to relieve stress from his oft-injured and young secondary. Outside of DT DeForest Buckner logging 12.0 sacks on the season, no other 49ers' defender eclipsed 6.0 sacks.

When NFL Free Agency officially opens on March 13, John Lynch and Co. will have plenty of options available to them. The team needs to finally address the position through both the draft and free agency. While some of the bigger names will receive exorbitant contract extensions or the franchise tag from their respective teams, a bevy of talent will be obtainable by the highest bidder. Enter Preston Smith.

Smith, the 38th overall pick in the 2015 Draft out of Mississippi State, completed his fourth season with the Washington Redskins in 2018. His numbers do not immediately jump off the page as he registered only 4.0 sacks and 53 tackles, however, his play greatly exceeds his numbers. Smith's 76.9 grade from PFF was good enough to rank as the 19th best EDGE defender in the league last season and his 16 QB hits would have been second on the 49ers to Buckner. His 6'5" 265lb frame would fill in the all-important LEO position in Saleh's defense. The LEO, in particular, has been difficult for the 49ers to find the correct player to slot in. Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead and Cassius Marsh have all been tested but the test resembled trying to stick a square peg in a round hole.

Injuries have also plagued the 49ers' defense over the past two seasons. The 26-year-old Smith has never missed a game in his career, including three consecutive years as a full-time starter. On top of his durability, Smith has shown the ability to create turnovers with four career interceptions, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. In 2018, he alone would have led the 49ers defense with two takeaways. For a squad desperately looking to upgrade its turnover margin, Smith's ability off the edge would be an instant upgrade.

The DeMarcus Lawrences, Dee Fords and Jadeveon Clowneys of the world may dominate headlines and find themselves atop many fans' wish lists but Preston Smith could be one of the missing pieces for the 49ers defense. Under the tutelage of DL Coach Jim Tomsula and surrounded with talent along the Redskins defensive front, Smith turned in the best year of his career in 2018. With Kris Kocurek taking the reins of the 49ers DL and the ability to play alongside Buckner, Armstead, Thomas and Ronald Blair III, Smith could emerge as a force to be reckoned with in red and gold.
  • Matthew Barr
  • Written by:
    Matthew Barr has been writing for 49ers Webzone and 49ers Hub since 2018 and co-hosts the 4th and Gold podcast which can be found on all podcast platforms. He can be found on Twitter fighting an endless battle to get the underscore removed from his handle, @MattBarr_.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



10 impactful undrafted free agent signings for the 49ers over the past five seasons

By Kirk Larrabee
May 7

Undrafted free agents play an integral role these days for every NFL team, with the San Francisco 49ers certainly being among the teams to have gotten some significant contributions from the undrafted players they've discovered over the past few years. The 49ers haven't hit on all their draft picks during the Lynch-Shanahan era at a level they would have liked, but their undrafted free agent signings have played a large enough role to help make their roster one of the most talented in the NFL. Here's a look at ten undrafted players the 49ers signed and developed during the Lynch-Shanahan era who went on to make a mark on Sundays. 10. RB JaMycal Hasty (2020, Baylor) - Hasty has helped on offense and on special teams over the past two seasons. He



Jersey numbers for 49ers' offseason free-agent additions revealed

By David Bonilla
May 11

We'll learn the jersey numbers for the San Francisco 49ers' 2022 rookie class on Friday. That's when the first-year players take the field for the start of a three-day rookie minicamp, the first of which is open to the media. However, thanks to Matt Barrows of The Athletic, we learned the jersey numbers for the team's other offseason additions. Before the #49ers rookies arrive, some new vet Nos.:WR Ray-Ray McCloud: 3WR KeeSean Johnson: 13S George Odum: 30CB Darqueze Dennard: 31CB Charvarius Ward: 35LB Oren



49ers announce signings of 14 undrafted free agents

By Site Staff
May 13

The San Francisco 49ers announced the signings of the following 14 undrafted free agents. The team has also waived wide receiver Connor Wedington. Name Position Ht. Wt. School Kevin Atkins DL 6-2 307 Fresno State Jeremiah Gemmel LB 6-1 225 North Carolina Tayler Hawkins S 6-1 205 San Diego State Qwuantrezz



Why Steve Smith Sr. is hoping for a 49ers-Rams NFL opener

By David Bonilla
May 3

The NFL will release the entire 2022 schedule on May 12. Three days earlier, the matchups and dates of select games will be revealed. One of those will likely be the NFL kickoff game—the first game that kicks off the 272-game slate of matchups. Typically, the reigning Super Bowl champions will host that first game of the season. That means some team will need to travel to SoFi Stadium to try to hand the Los Angeles Rams an 0-1 start. Steve Smith Sr. of NFL Media is hoping the visiting team is the San Francisco 49ers. It's certainly a possibility. However, the Rams are also scheduled to host the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, and Seattle Seahawks. Why does


Featured

More by Matthew Barr

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone