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49ers re-sign LB Smith, two others

SAN FRANCISCO (March 6, 2006) -- Linebacker Derek M. Smith re-signed with the San Francisco 49ers, staying with the club he has led in tackles for five straight seasons.

Smith has been the 49ers' defensive leader since signing with the club as a free agent from Washington before the 2001 season. He made at least 100 tackles in each of his nine NFL seasons, including 163 last season according to team statistics.

With the likely departures of linebackers Julian Peterson and Andre Carter in free agency, Smith's return was particularly important to coach Mike Nolan, who coached Smith for three seasons with the Redskins.

The 49ers also re-signed fullback Chris Hetherington and backup quarterback Jesse Palmer. Hetherington, a 10-year veteran, became the 49ers' starting fullback last season, while former Giants backup Palmer was San Francisco's third quarterback for three games last season.

Nolan also completed his coaching staff by hiring Pep Hamilton as their quarterbacks coach and offensive assistant. Hamilton spent the last three seasons on the Jets' coaching staff.

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