We learned today that San Francisco 49ers five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Smith will retire from the NFL, ending a fantastic career with the team.

Smith was taking his time deciding whether or not to retire. The 49ers, who have been very patient during his decision process, were even open to a mid-season return for their three-time All-Pro.

He met with the team earlier this week but a final decision was not made until today.


Smith, nicknamed "The Cowboy", was signed by the 49ers as a free agent in 2008 after playing for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2001 until 2007. Considered to be one of the best 49ers free agent signings of all-time, Smith has 880 tackles, 87 sacks, 17 forced fumbles, and three interceptions during his 14 year career.


The former fourth overall selection out of Missouri in the 2001 NFL Draft has been a key player in the stellar play of linebacker Aldon Smith, opening holes for the pass rusher to run through on his way to opposing quarterbacks.

During the offseason, the 49ers acquired free agent defensive end Darnell Dockett and drafted Arik Armstead out of Oregon in the first-round of the NFL Draft. The team also has promising youngster Tank Carradine, a 2013 draft selection out of Florida State.

Smith is 35 years old.

Career NFL and Team Awards

5x Pro Bowl selection
3x All-Pro selection
2x Len Eshmont Award winner
2x Bill Walsh Award winner
4x Matt Hazeltine Iron Man Award winner
1x Ed Block Courage Award winner