After 14 NFL seasons, San Francisco 49ers DE Justin Smith has officially announced his retirement. Smith, who originally broke into the league with the Cincinnati Bengals as a first-round pick (No. 4) of the 2001 NFL Draft, has been nothing short of stellar.
A five-time Pro-Bowl selection (2009-2013) and two-time first-team All-Pro (2011-2012), the player known as Cowboy has finally decided to hang up his cleats. “I mean, for me it’s just, you know, where I play on the right side, all my contact comes on my left shoulder and left side. And, I mean, it doesn’t respond like I want it to respond anymore. You know? You don’t have the tools, you can’t do the job, so it’s just time to go,” Smith told local media in a conference call today.
“Justin is the consummate professional whose impact on this organization can never be measured by statistics alone,” 49ers GM Trent Baalke said. “His durability, competitiveness, work ethic, strength and rare stamina helped set him apart over his 14-year career. Cowboy will go down as one of the best to ever wear a 49ers uniform and his candidness, work ethic and pure passion for the game will be missed. We wish the very best for him and his family!”
In 14 seasons in the NFL, Smith racked up 880 tackles and 87.0 sacks. “As a football coach, you will always be searching for the next Justin Smith, knowing full well you will never find a player quite like him,” 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula said.
So where do the 49ers go from here? Well I think it was obvious that he wasn’t returning once the team settled on selecting DE Arik Armstead in the first-round (No. 17). Now he will have to step up along with DE Tank Carradine and DE Quinton Dial and see who can relish that starting role.
In other news the team signed two players today with the signings of CB Mylan Hicks to a three-year deal and OL Justin Renfrow to a two-year deal.