49ers confirm Marvel Smith’s retirement

49ers confirm Marvel Smith’s retirement


The 49ers this morning officially announced tackle Marvel Smith has retired after nine NFL seasons. Smith was signed as a free agent in the offseason after playing his entire career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.


Smith ended the past two seasons on injured reserve with back problems. He underwent two surgeries to remove disc fragments. He has not felt the same since his last back surgery, said a source close to Smith.


“Marvel and I have spoken, and I know that this was not a decision he took lightly,” 49ers coach Mike Singletary said in a statement. “We appreciate that he came to us when he did with this decision, and wish him well in the next chapter of his life.”


Smith, 31, earned a trip to the Pro Bowl after the 2004 season. He played for the Steelers in one Super Bowl, and started five games last year for the Super Bowl-winners before the back problem forced him out of action for the remainder of the season.


Smith attended Skyline High in Oakland before landing a scholarship to Arizona State. The Steelers selected Smith in the second round of the 2000 draft.


In my article this morning in which I reported Smith had told the 49ers he planned to retire, I cited a team source who told me the team wanted to give Smith a couple days, in hopes he might feel better and decide to return. Team spokesman Bob Lange told me this morning that the club just wanted to go through the exit process before confirming Smith’s retirement.


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So tonight’s exhibition game against the Dallas Cowboys is big for several players, including Barry Sims, Jacob Bender, Alex Boone and Matt Spanos. Each is trying to earn a spot on the 3-man  53-man roster.


The 49ers need a backup tackle who can play either the left side or the right side. Bender might have the ability to do that. Boone, at this stage, is solely a right tackle. Sims’ odds of making the team just increased dramatically because he knows both positions. Spanos is an intriguing candidate for a roster spot because of his versatility. He has played guard and center in the exhibition games.


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The 49ers have been looking for a veteran tackle, but there are not a lot of great options out there.


According to Adam Caplan of Scout.com, here are some of the available veterans (most of the players you’ve heard of have major injury concerns): Levi Jones, Mark Tauscher, Jon Runyan, Jonas Jennings (sorry, but I had to mention him), Charles Spencer, Kwame Harris (him, too), Jason Fabini, George Foster, Wayne Gandy, Junius Coston, Rob Petitti, Fred Miller and Kevin Sampson.


Understandly, the 49ers don’t seem too smitten with any of those options. The club might also scour the league to see how feasible it might be to work a trade for a backup tackle.


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This morning, I made my traditional pilgrimage to Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. Quite a coincidence that I took in the sights on the day JFK’s brother went to his final resting place.


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