When I think of San Francisco 49ers DE Justin Smith the first word that comes to mind is “toughness.” A former first-round pick (No. 4) in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, Smith has always been one of the more tougher players in the NFL. A player that started 185 consecutive games before ending that streak due to an elbow injury in 2012, Smith continues to be the rock along the 49ers defensive line. Now as Cowboy nears the end of his career, the question remains how will he fare in 2014?
There’s no question that age is a factor. Smith turns 35 in September and will be looking to again anchor one of the best defenses in the NFL. A player that knows how to use leverage to his advantage with his speed-to-power bull-rush, you can be sure Smith will be out to have another Pro Bowl type season despite his age.
In six seasons in San Francisco, Smith has been selected to the past five Pro Bowls while being named to the last three All-Pro teams. A true bully down in the trenches, it’s no wonder Smith was voted once again on the NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2014. And while many NFL pundits believe age to be a factor this upcoming season, Smith is a different breed as he seems to get stronger with age.
Aside from Smith’s durability and skill-set it’s his high-motor that has garnered the respect of his peers. St. Louis Rams T Joe Barksdale praised Smith’s motor saying, “He’s going to be an all day sucker…Whether their up by 30 or down by 30 he’s going to keep coming.”And it’s that tenacity that will power Smith to another great season in 2014.
Whether holding the point of attack or two-gaping his way to collapse the pocket, you can be sure Smith will have another All-Pro season, as he proves he’s still one of the best down in the trenches despite turning 35.