Veteran Marvel Smith not afraid to compete for starting job

Veteran Marvel Smith officially signed a two-year contract with the 49ers. Does that eliminate the need for the team to draft an offensive lineman with the No. 10 overall pick?

Smith said he does not care.


“It doesn’t matter to me at all,” Smith said this afternoon on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “I don’t have any control over any type of decisions like that. To me, competition is great. If you want it bad enough, it’s worth fighting for.


“The biggest thing is for me to perform and do the things I know I can do. Outside of that, I don’t worry about anything else.”


And Smith said he believes he’ll be able to perform in 2009 at a high level. The 49ers have slated him to return to right tackle this season. Smith played his first three NFL seasons on the right side before he made the transition to the left side, where he earned a Pro Bowl trip with the Steelers.


He has missed 15 games due to a lower-back problem the past two seasons. However, he said the procedures have been minor.


Smith said the two surgery’s he has undergone (December 2007 and November 2008) have been to remove floating disc fragments in his back. He said there should be no lasting impact from those surgeries.


In fact, he said he is looking forward to playing a physical brand of football with the 49ers. He is scheduled to report to Santa Clara next week to begin work in the 49ers’ offseason program. (Although he’s an East Oakland native, he makes his offseason home in Southern California.)


“I can’t wait to get up there and get going,” Smith said. “To me, it’s a real young team that’s on the verge of taking off and being one of the better teams in the league. I definitely want to be a part of that. It seems everything they have set in place is geared toward being a physically dominant team on the field, and that’s the exact type of team I love playing for.


“If  you can get out there on the field and physically dominate — and not necessarily just beating them or scoring more points — it can be physically demoralizing a team, then that’s the kind of team I love to play for. That seems like that’s the kind of team coach (Mike) Singletary has put together.”


Smith was on injured reserve and did not play the final 11 regular-season games for the Steelers. The club ended up placing the franchise tag on his replacement, Max Starks, and did not make an attempt to re-sign Smith. “I’m actually glad not to be going back, to tell you the truth,” Smith said, “because I couldn’t see a situation better than the one I have right now.”


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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting tight end Billy Bajema has agreed to terms with the Rams.


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