After months of speculation, the 49ers announced that defensive end Justin Smith has decided to retire.
Smith spent the last seven years in San Francisco after a seven-year stint with the Bengals. From his rookie season through 2014, he appeared in 221 total regular season contests, racking up 87 total sacks and earning spots in five consecutive Pro Bowls from 2009 to 2013. Last year, in his age-35 season, Smith totaled five sacks (giving him 87 for his career) and Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked him the NFL’s 11th-best 3-4 defensive end out of 47 qualifiers.
“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 in the press release. “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.”
The former No. 4 overall pick has the unique distinction of having been named an Associated Press All-Pro at two different positions in the same year. In 2011, he ws named as a first-team defensive tackle and a second-team defensive end. Smith was also named Second-Team All-Pro at defensive tackle and defensive end in 2012.
During his career, Smith started 217 of 221 games played, including a streak of 185 consecutive starts from his rookie season through December of 2012. He finished his career with 1,370 tackles, 87.0 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, three interceptions and 30 passes defensed.