San Francisco 49ers

Report: 49ers visiting with Buccaneers pass rusher

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) loses the ball as he is hit by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jacquies Smith (56) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans. The Saints have averaged just 16.7 points over their past three games.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) loses the ball as he is hit by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jacquies Smith (56) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans. The Saints have averaged just 16.7 points over their past three games. ASSOCIATED PRESS

The 49ers are meeting with a restricted free agent who presumably could beef up their pass rush.

According to the NFL Network, the team is getting a visit from Buccaneers defensive lineman Jacquies Smith, who finished second on that squad in sacks in 2014 (seven sacks) and 2015 (six and a half) but who suffered an ACL tear in Week 1 of the 2016 season.

Smith, 27, is a restricted free agent whom the Buccaneers tendered with an original-round offer. Because Smith went undrafted out of Missouri in 2012, the 49ers wouldn't owe Tampa Bay a draft pick if he were to sign with San Francisco. The Buccaneers could match any offer the 49ers give Smith.

According to the players’ union, the 49ers have nearly $75 million in salary-cap space -- the most in the NFL -- while the Buccaneers have $30 million.

Smith (6-2, 260) hasn’t been a full-time player in Tampa Bay, but he was part of the team’s nickel defenses. The 49ers likely are eying him as someone who could line up at their so-called "Leo" position, which goes to the best pass rusher on the squad. Other candidates for that position are Aaron Lynch, Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold and Tank Carradine. The 49ers also are expected to draft a pass rusher in next month's draft, which is believed to be deeper than normal at the position.

It's unknown when Smith will be able to practice in full following his ACL injury.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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