The first hint that the Niners' current ownership really meant business on the player-procurement front was the March 3, 2007 free-agent signing of CB Nate Clements to an eight-year deal worth up to $80 million, with $22 million guaranteed. Almost exactly one year later, the Yorks made another eye-popping free-agent statement, signing DE Justin Smith to a six-year, $45 million, with $20 million guaranteed. With another season in the books, while team insiders now consider Smith's deal "a bargain" after a strong season in which they believe he further established himself as the leader of one of the league's strongest 3-4 defensive fronts, it would appear to be a much different story for Clements. After failing to make it back from the broken right shoulder blade he suffered in Week Eight, we hear Clements is likely looking at a greatly diminished role next season — if he has one at all.
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