SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco 49ers have announced that Justin Smith, a two-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl defensive-end will hang-up his cleats and retire from the NFL.
A stalwart along San Francisco’s defensive line, Smith proved one of the greatest free agency acquisitions in Niners history, amassing at least 5 or more sacks in all but one of his seven seasons since joining the team in 2008.
Nicknamed “The Cowboy,” Smith brought a throwback nastiness and blue-collar mentality to the game, on that earned him considerable respect across a league chalk-full of big, strong, nasty athletes.
“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.”
Selected fourth-overall by the Bengals in the 2001 NFL Draft, Smith totaled 880 tackles, 87 sacks, and 17 forced fumbles over the course of his 14-year career.
“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.”