The San Francisco 49ers could certainly use defensive end and team leader Justin Smith during their 2015 campaign. The team is expected to finally discover if he intends to retire or not later this week, on Wednesday or Thursday.
#49ers GM Trent Baalke on Justin Smith: He will be in Wednesday/Thursday & we are going to talk. Hope to have a better answer at that stage.
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) May 12, 2015
Smith has been an anchor for San Francisco’s 3-4 defensive front since joining the team as an unrestricted free agent in 2008. He’s racked up 43.5 sacks since that time in what is essentially an interior defensive line spot, making him one of the league’s most dominant linemen in that regard. Equally effective in the run game, Smith’s presence on the line has been a driving force for one of the league’s best defenses, year in and year out.
There’s nobody in the front office, on the coaching staff or on the team’s roster that doesn’t want him to come back this year, especially after losing Patrick Willis to a surprise retirement earlier this year.
The 49ers have been planning for his retirement for a long time, however.
“For four years –- you see the D-linemen we’ve brought in –- we’ve been making preparations,” head coach Jim Tomsula said recently, per CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “This isn’t a this year thing for us. We’ve been making preparations. A guy gets to 12 years in the National Football League and he’s about a 92-percent rep count playing defensive line, you better start making preparations. That started a while ago.”
Baalke drafted Arik Armstead with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, signaling to many that Smith’s time may be already at an end with the 49ers. That said, nobody has been able to gauge what he’s ultimately going to say when he’s ready to say it.
Hopefully, for 49ers fans who are tired of waiting, the wait will come to an end this week.
Photo: USA Today Sports