The 49ers’ best player the past seven seasons, Justin Smith, just announced his retirement.
From 2009 to 2013, Smith went to five straight Pro Bowls. In 2011, he earned his one and only first-team All-Pro selection, and he should have won the Defensive Player of the Year Award, too.
Here’s a statement from 49ers’ general manager Trent Baalke: “Justin is the consummate professional whose impact on this organization can never be measured by statistics alone. 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!”
Here’s a statement from head coach Jim Tomsula: “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. 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.”