The San Francisco 49ers announced Monday that 49ers DT Justin Smith is retiring from the NFL.
“Tough. Physical. Durable. Hard-working. Dedicated. Selfless. Justin embodies each of those qualities and brought even more with him to work each and every day,” said 49ers CEO Jed York. “Whether it was chasing down a wide receiver and forcing a fumble to seal a win, or driving a tackle back into the quarterback’s chest, he gave everything he had every play. Justin has earned the respect of the entire NFL community and he will always be remembered as one of the 49ers all-time greats.”
“Justin is the consummate professional whose impact on this organization can never be measured by statistics alone,” said 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. “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!”
“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,” said 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula. “Everybody knows about his toughness, durability, and instincts, but his greatest attribute does not get the attention it deserves. Justin never concerned himself with personal accomplishments, his unselfish nature made that impossible. People like to say ‘they broke the mold with him’ but there was never a mold. Justin Smith is a hand-crafted football player.”
49ers GM Trent Baalke mentioned last week that he expected to have an idea about Smith’s status by the end of the week. However, it appears as though they wanted until early this week.
Smith, 35, still has one year remaining on his three-year, $16.8 million contract and would make a base salary of $2.65 million for the 2015 season.
In 2014, Smith appeared in all 16 games and recorded 43 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and a recovery for the 49ers. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 11 defensive end in a 3-4 out of 47 qualifying player.s