Report: Patrick Willis and Justin Smith to retire

Two of the greatest 49ers ever don’t want to play anymore.

Pro Football Talk just confirmed the reports that Patrick Willis AND Justin Smith will announce their retirement. Willis had a “religious awakening” according to the Bay Area Sports Guy.

The 49er just lost their third-best player and fourth-best player. The Niners will replace them with DT Darnell Dockett and ILB Chris Borland.

I thought Jim Tomsula, the 49ers’ former defensive line coach, could convince defensive lineman Justin Smith to play one more season. Apparently, Tomsula doesn’t have the juice.

This article has 314 Comments

  1. Well well.
    It looks like the team is taking apart from the inside out.
    Is Kap next?

  2. The cowboy and willis will be missed appreciate all they have done. Borland,tank get ready young guys step up time alot lost in leadership tho.

  3. Suddenly, the 49ers have about $11.5 million in cap savings. What will Baalke do?

    1. cubus,
      Baalke should find a way to funnel that money to a Swiss bank account and go hide somewhere in the amazon jungles of Brazil, buy a couple of cases of Cuban cigars and think of what might have been had the FO found a way to mend fences with Harbaugh.
      This train is going nowhere fast. By this time next year Baalke may be gone and Jed may be put on “timeout” by mom and pop.

      It will be very interesting to see what our 2015 starting lineups (offense/defense) will look like in September.

      1. AES….Harbaugh is gone….so much so that he probably can’t even BUY a ticket to the Super bowl.

        1. OREGON,
          Howz it, my friend!
          Yup, Harbaugh is gone but don’t be too surprised if the fanbase provides a huge blow-back towards the FO over the “mutual parting of ways” debacle if the team takes a downward slide into obscurity.
          The only way the FO (Jed & Baalke) can completely move forward from Harbaugh is to win. If they can’t, there could be a backlash from the locker room and no ownership wants that.

          And Harbaugh will likely be sitting in a luxury box at Levi’s Field of Jean’s come February if he so desires.
          But he will probably only be there if either the Bears or Philly are the NFC representative ; > )

  4. I am actually ok with all of this……….. I just think they need to sign Skuta at this point.

    Let the young guys take over.

    The newfound cap space will make things interesting though. I still don’t think they get in a bidding war for Iupati, but maybe they extend a couple of guys like Boone, Ian Williams, etc..

  5. Very sad. Willis was a beast and one of the all-time greats. Clearly not healing as expected. Now, explains why we tendered Wilhoite.

  6. Sad to see them go, however lets be real here. We were not going to compete for the SB next year and after that both Cowboy and P willy would have been done (94 for age reasons 52 at too big a cap #) we have replacements for both (although not as good as the guys they are replacing) it might be time to tear this team down and start the rebuild rather than prolonging the inevitable. Im not advocating tanking and sucking but now we can go forward with a youth movement and see what the young guys can do. We still have Bowman in the middle and with us playing nickel more than 50% of the time PWilly was on the sidelines on 3rd down anyways

    1. More than what they brought to the field, the team will miss their presence in the locker room. They are going to lose 3 of the most respected players on this team by tomorrow night. Tough blow.

  7. Wow….Gore, Willis, and Smith.

    I knew it was inevitable, just not this soon. If Bowman’s back at 100%, we’re good, if not, this could be a very long season.

  8. Well, that’s a slap in the face to start my day. I thought Cowboy might be back. Didn’t see the Willis thing coming at all. Many thanks and a hearty Good Luck to both of them. They’re grown men who know what they need to do.
    Wilhoite can renew his lease.

    1. Pretty sad day. First domino to fall was Alex smith and now Gore, Willis, and smith. The core from over the last 10-12 years is gone.

      Vernon is next year?

      For all these ‘amazing’ drafts baalke has had. The only markee face/name he has brought in is aldon smith. Everyone else have been back ups.

      1. Aldon smith, and Anthony Davis and bruce miller, Mike Iupati (starter and a top FA guard) and Eric Reed, and Hyde (now a starter) and Culliver (was a starter and a hot commodity FA) and Borland (now a starter) any number of players who could not break through because this team was stacked with talented players ahead of them

      2. Alex Smith?? We are talking all time great 49ers here like Gore, Willis and Justin Smith. Not 49er QB bums like Alex Smith or the current QB bum. I really hope they do not give Colin as many years/chances as they gave Alex.

  9. That is two huge losses on the defensive side of the ball. And on top of this the Kaep on the trade block rumors. I’m feeling more and more uneasy about next season.

    1. I can’t see the Kap trade rumor being anything legit Mid. Doesn’t make sense on any level. No credible info guy has backed it up and Schefter in fact has shot it down.

          1. You’re seriously asking that what with how the front office went about trying to get rid of Harbaugh?

      1. Agree, but I will admit that this off-season has had a certain “Alice In Wonderland” flair.

        1. BroTuna,

          Was that “Coo-kooka-choo”, as in “Mrs Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know. Woah, woah, woah – woah, woah, woah”?

  10. The knee jerk reaction is to say the sky is falling, the defense did well in the absence of both when they were injured. So Keep Calm and 9er On. Certainly a surprise with PW…but the cap money gives lots of options and room. The most irritating thing is that the York/Baalke collective called this a re-tooling. At this point they NEED a long term plan at QB…keeping Kap for another year might make sense.

      1. MidWest I believe that Cris was refering to Bowman and Willis not Smith and Willis.

    1. Blahhhh!….Bad Ham sandwich….Holding onto CK for another year is merely another year wasted……He’s not going to get us any Lombardi’s….not even any Mariucci’s. Too many holes in his game….

  11. Well If anyone wants to know how the locker room is taking the coaching change just ask Frank Gore, Justin Smith and Patrick Willis.

    1. “Well If anyone wants to know how the locker room is taking the coaching change just ask Frank Gore, Justin Smith and Patrick Willis.”

      Or it could just be that Willis isn’t fully healthy.

      @JimTrotter_NFL 15m
      One more SF note: Told Willis reached this decision b/c he has a passion to work with youth; he also was still having issues with his feet.

      Plus, giving Gore the type of deal that he received from Philly would be bad business I think.

      1. So you’re suggesting that if Baalke hadn’t turned the team inside out that Willis would still be retiring and Gore still would still be leaving the team for $?

        1. Yes to Gore. Regarding Willis, I’m not sure what the total situation is there. All I can say is that his leaving isn’t a complete shocker to me. I wrote that he could likely be out this year back in February of 2014.

          1. You wrote in 2014 that Willis would retire because of injury to go work with children or that he’d be cut because of salary reasons? I remember plenty of us wondering last year and before how much longer the team would keep him around but I don’t believe anyone was suggesting he was going to just up and retire.

            1. I wrote that they needed to draft an ILB because Willis was aging. His cap # also played a role in what i wrote. I was thinking they’d cut him, not that he’d retire.

              1. I believe that the combination of Baalke’s handling of the overall situation and the ultimate result of Harbaugh and his assistants(most) being gone along with Mangini’s installment pushed players that might have been on the fence and probably could have been swayed into another year or so by coaches they respect and admire to falling off the fence all together. Phew, talk about run on sentences.

                I can’t hide that my bias towards Gore could clearly be affecting my judgement but I believe he would have taken a one or two year deal with the 49ers if the team had remained intact.

              2. There’s no way Gore (or anyone else, for that matter) should or would take one year at $4M instead of the two years at $7.5M he’s getting with the Eagles. And I don’t think the 49ers Should’ve offered more, either. I love what Gore has brought to the 49ers, but there is a time to move on and I think that time is now.

              1. By the way if this is how it works then I get credit for when Brook’s eventually get’s cut because I called that like 3 years ago. ;)

              2. OK. I see. I thought maybe it was an incorrect link and you were trying to post your first 2015 mock draft.

    2. @JimTrotter_NFL · 29m
      SF says it has not been told by Justin Smith that he’s retiring. Smith has gone back & forth. Team working on ways (NFI?) to entice him back

      1. Jack:

        Please continue to post these types of items today. It’s getting very hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

        1. Cubus,

          Just get on Twitter and follow guys like Schefter, Trotter, Mortenson, etc. These guys have reliable sources, and as we’ve already seen this morning, Twitter seems to be the source for most of the top guys in the Bay Area as well.

          1. @RavensInsider 2m
            Jerome Simpson two-year 49ers deal: $1.63 million, no guaranteed money, base salaries of $745,000, $885,000 annual $50,000 workout bonus

            Another reliable follow

    1. Crabtree is reportedly getting $52 million over 5 years with $32 million guaranteed. And the Bills wonder why they aren’t contenders.

      1. Put a decent QB on that team and they will be. They have some serious firepower on offense.

          1. don’t forget a 7th rd converted QB caught the winning TD in the superbowl to upset a team that had 4 undrafted FA WR starting for them

      2. That’s actually not a bad deal for them Cubus, especially considering that they don’t have a first round pick this year. Now they have McCoy, Watkins, and Crabtree on the same offense.

        1. 10 million average for Crabtree is way too much IMO. However, it’s a moot point at this moment because Barrows pulled the article.

      3. Where did this Crabtree info come from? (the sacbee link goes 404)

        $52m is surprising. The $32m guaranteed is flabbergasting. Hats off to the Crustacean Sensation’s agent.

          1. Correct. Because he obtained his information from a fake ProFootballTalk Twitter account.

  12. Shocking that they didn’t want to stick around and be coached by Mangini.

  13. Smart of Bills to grab Crabs due to knowing the system…….. funny though considering the wanted to go to a passing offense and now he has Roman’s system w Manuel tossing the ball.

    The 49ers are pretty deep at most positions and I believe they will be fine- Willis retiring is better than putting them in a difficult situation down the road and we have a cheap replacement and a lot of $ to spend now. Would have liked to get Cowboy for one more year…… Iupati was gone long ago and hopefully Thomas plays well there.

    I would like to see if we can get Foles out of PHI as insurance- plus he can run pretty well to maintain the offensive continuity if need be.

    My $.02

    Glass half full……….

  14. So the rumors that there is unrest in the locker room is true, only it wasn’t about Harbaugh!

    1. Maybe reloading his underpants this morning. This has been a strange 24 hours.

      I think Willis and J. Smith read my 11-5 prediction from a few weeks ago and retired just to mess with me.

  15. Tomsula did have enough juice to convince Dockett to leave AZ to join 49ers.

    getting Dockett to join the niners is a bigger deal than losing Smith…….we all knew he was going to retire……so makes no sense wasting the TomsulaJuice on JS

  16. Cam Inman provides list of 49er captains.

    #49ers captains:
    2011: Willis, Gore
    2012: Willis, Gore, JSmith ASmith
    2013: Willis, JSmith, Kap
    2014: Willis, JSmith, Kap, Staley
    2015: ???

  17. Damn! What the hell is happening with this franchise? I know one thing. I’d love to see this team trade for Adrian Peterson. I don’t know what the Vikings want but we could certainly offset Lynch with Seattle by getting Adrian. Sign Adrian for 2-3 years ar 8-9 million for 2 years and a team option. We’re gonna run it anyway. Why not run it with the best?!

    1. 23J – You might be onto to something…Tomsula will ground and pound anyways. Niners might be able to afford AP now with P Willy gone…..Billy Bob Baalke could redeem himself with Dockett, Torrey Smith and then AP………”I like this kinda party!” -Singletary lol

  18. ha ha @ the faux shock…..

    Willis has a career ending injury and everyone is surprised he retired…….wtf do you expect him to do?….keep playing on 9 toes?

    we still have Bowman and a top talent Borland + Backup……..ILB is not a huge need to address……

    1. One – Just think how much better Borland will be this year. He probably bulked up a little and the experience he gained last year was priceless.

      1. definitely looking forward to Borland playing this year……..he could only get better

  19. I wonder if Bloggers around the country have a cooperative conspiracy to ‘report’ leaks about their team to stimulate hits for other bloggers, and then rotate around rumors so all the bloggers get hits.
    As for instance, it could be there’s a trade in the works: Brady to the Bears for Cutler and 6 kielbasa. But it’s a secret, so everyone will deny it.

  20. Nothing wrong with the 49er franchise,

    2 players RETIRED (Note: 2 positions we actually have dependable depth) and all are blaming FO

    we are about to sign a young confirmed speedster who has a SB ring all you want to do is WHINE about the Org.

    I support the 49ers, they have done no wrong in my view……yes it hurts they could not give Gore $5mil a yr, but the truth is its time to move on….we have depended on Gore for sooooo long its starting getting tiring……let the offensive ownership be on #7…..

    Apart from that I see no News here…..

      1. Why would they? They kinda have these two players named Bowman and Borland, perhaps you’ve heard of them?

          1. WIlhoite, Moody still on the roster. 49ers depth is never going to be tested more than it was last year and they did fine.

            1. If Bowman failed his physical as the latest rumor is indicating, then they will go after someone during free agency or the draft. And even if he didn’t, it’s still possible because of the injuries we had at the ILB position last season. As I said, insurance.

  21. Wonder if we can get a #1st round pick..
    for Jed …?

    (ok.. so-o-o … what if we throw in Baalke, too ?)

  22. If Niners somehow land Adrian Peterson…..I would allow him one whack on my 7 yr old son with that “wooden stitch.” :) …….Just foolin….What the hell is a wooden stitch anyway? I never heard of that….Is it like a yard stick? Seriously I don’t know………My dad used a belt on me and my two brothers a couple times back in the mid 70’s. Now he is a softy and pretends it never happened.

    1. LOL. So generous of you.

      A switch is a whip-like stick. My Dad said he had to go cut his own switch before receiving a whuppin.

      1. Grimey – Thanks for answering and the story about your pops bro. I wish more of the regulars in here would drop an occasional story about growing up or sports related stuff….For example, how they were the hero in a big game (any sport) or how they completely choked/gagged under pressure and cost their team a game…..It’s all good

  23. Jim Trotter on Torrey Smith to 49ers (via PFT):

    ESPN’s Jim Trotter reports the 49ers are “feeling good” about their chances of signing free agent Torrey Smith, but that they’re “holding their breath” until Tuesday.
    The Baltimore Sun has reported that Smith-to-San Fran is a “done deal,” but it doesn’t appear this one is quite as done as Frank Gore, Ndamukong Suh, etc. Smith would be a rare talent addition for a club that’s been bleeding it all offseason

  24. Jim Trotter @JimTrotter_NFL · 34m 34 minutes ago

    “Ok, this really is last SF note: I’m told Baalke and Kaepernick spoke last night & shared a laugh abt report Kaepernick is on trade block.”

  25. With Willis and Smith set to retire, do we re-consider sticking with a 3-4? If Bowman really is healthy, he moves to the outside; Borland is ILB. Keep Wilhoite to back up Borland; draft an OLB.

    Up front you have Dockett, Dorsey/Williams, Dial/Tank, Smith/Lynch

    1. They could just re-sign Skuta to be the SAM. But I don’t think they’ll make the switch. I do hope they re-sign Skuta though.

    1. I like it. I hope it indicates a bigger role for him. Can’t be good for VMac. Although I am one of the few that still has high hopes for him.

      1. Entirely agree. Carrier showed great flashes last year. I’m giving VMac one more year. Haven’t heard how his back surgery went or if he even had it yet.

  26. Jim Trotter “Club feels good it will land Torrey Smith, but holding breath until Tuesday.”

    Not quite a “done deal” but still looks good.

  27. Just a question, with all this bawling, whining, and doomsaying, have Justin, Patrick or indeed the 49ers actually said anything?

    1. No, nothing official. Maiocco has reported that the retirements are likely, but he is awaiting official confirmation as well.

      1. Ok, i’ll hang on until something beyond hearsay happens before throwing myself off a cliff, or summoning the lynch mob to take out baalke and york.

        But if it does come to pass, I simply say, thank you Patrick and Justin for putting your bodies on the line repeatedly for the team I love. And while I’m at it, Thank you Frank for being incredible. (I’m assuming they read this, I mean Grant must be highly respected within the niners team right?)

        No man lasts forever, I still remember the sadness ar seeing Joe, Jerry, Roger, Ronnie, Tom etc etc playing in different colours. Life goes on.

    1. According to Niners Nation Jason Hurley we had about $7.5 million in cap space on March 2nd. Since then we’ve signed Dockett, Hayne, Simpson, tendered Wilhoite, Jerod Eddie and extended Carrier, Nelson and Celek. Aldon’s “restructuring” creates temporary cap space of about $4 million. If Smith and Willis both retire, then that would free up just under $11.7 million.

      Hard to say, but probably around $15 million under the salary cap (including the Aldon Smith temporary space). If Stevie Johnson is released, then $20 to $22 million.

  28. They should have added the 6th ring with Alex Smith. Now 49er fans have about a decade of irrelevance to look forward to. The window shut FAST. Anyone who wants to say anything else, you will hopefully get it when you’re older and evolve away from stupidity. The move to shaft Alex Smith was merely an indication of momentum blindness. 49ers HQ and most 49er fans are completely momentum blind… you all have no idea what is coming now, just like your stupid chase after fool’s gold with Kaepernick had you blind to the suck that was coming. If I wasn’t a 49er fan, I’d be very amused by it all. 49ers are almost getting as bad as the Raiders.

    1. 49ers lost all momentum after Alex was shafted.
      The team never won another playoff game after that.

      1. Ummm…I hate to burst your bubble there, but didn’t the 49ers beat the Packers and then the Panthers in the 2013 playoffs?

          1. The 49ers last Super Bowl win was in the 1995 season. They lost their most recent SB because the offense absolutely sucked in the first half, then failed to execute a game winning drive, the only SB loss. The truth is, the 49ers momentum clearly halted when they shafted Alex Smith. Alex Smith won against the Saints in epic fashion. Kyle Williams lost the NFCCG. From there, Kaepernick briefly shined then sputtered, and the team lost confidence, and now Tomsula and Mangini are expected to turn the team around without Gore, Smith, Willis and maybe even without Bowman. Who knows who else is going to leave? Like I said… you and other 49er fans are momentum blind. It’s amusing in some ways, but mostly depressing as a 49er fan.

            1. Hall of Famers are leaving the team and your stuck on Alex Smith. If you say Kaepernick is “fools gold” then Alex Smith was coprolite.

              1. Alex Smith got to the playoffs with a Chiefs team with way less talent than the 49ers which was atrocious the year before. The 49ers sucked top to bottom until Harbaugh arrived and put a basic level of functionality in place. The 49ers gambled on Kaepernick’s enduring talent, but he was a gimmick and got figured out. It was the wrong move. Alex Smith is not gold, certainly not coprolite, perhaps silver, but Kaepernick is certainly fool’s gold. Silver is better than fool’s gold, and Alex would have been a better choice in the long run.

      2. What a tremendous plume of feathers in your cap, what with playoff failures due to horrific offensive miscues which has lead to decimation of the most talented team in the NFL.

        1. Horrific offensive miscues?
          Are you referring to the horrific offensive miscues with the QB bum Alex Smith in there for 7+ years or the horrific offensive miscues with the QB bum Colin Kaepernick in there for the past 2+ seasons?
          The team would have won at least 2 Super Bowls if they had a quality NFL QB instead of those bums.

          1. I won’t argue your last point, because I agree we would have won at least 2 Super Bowls with better QBs than Alex Smith and Kaepernick. I will say that it was tried, but it failed. Manning went to the Broncos. We had Smith, and I say he would have one a Super Bowl ring with the 49ers. He had the anger and chip on his shoulder, and the entire group of veterans understood that and would have rallied, and that MOMENTUM alone would have pushed this team to unseen heights. Certainly heights Harbaugh never reached when he played.That’s why he was blind to it. Most 49er fans are blind these days too, because they don’t remember what real 49er momentum and force was. They settle for fool’s gold, because they don’t know what real gold looks like.

              1. Missed out on Manning. Alex Smith should have been gone after 2010 (Lock out) and again after 2011 (Flirting with Peyton)

      3. ” 49ers lost all momentum after Alex was shafted.
        The team never won another playoff game after that.

        Seriously! I think you need to rapidly breathe in and out into a paper bag, Josh!

    2. “Anyone who wants to say anything else, you will hopefully get it when you’re older and evolve away from stupidity.”

      I’m guessing you’re older. After reading your statement, it’s apparent to me that age is not a linear path for evolving away from stupidity.

      Alex had numerous opportunities with the team. He’s a good QB with a strong running game and defense. He can’t carry a team for any length of time. Colin is similar to Smith in that regard. The difference is that he is younger, cheaper, athletically superior and has more potential. If he doesn’t evolve into a much better QB, he won’t be around for long.

  29. What a weekend! I was pretty psyched about the Dockett and Torrey Smith news, but now this! Wow, just blown away.

    A few days ago I called the Torrey Smith move, and also that Baalke would be aggressive this FA. His job is on the line this season, he needs to make the right moves this season. I see a few more big moves up Baalke’s sleeve coming, especially with the freed up cap space. I think it’s going to get real interesting this week.

    As for Willis leaving, it hurts. My favorite player by far and I wish him the absolute best. And if his calling is youth, I think that is awesome, especially since I share that same calling. For our sake I hope Bowman is at 100% this season. I like the pairing of him and Borland. I think we’ll be good up front. We need to add some quality depth, but we’ll be good. Maybe we go and sign Culliver now.

  30. With the Cowboys signing Doug Free this weekend I think Jeremy Parnell becomes the perfect candidate for the 9ers swing tackle and for a reasonable price

    1. He is signing with the Jags for about the same money Anthony Davis is making, or possibly more. Crazy deals have begun.

        1. Great Leo, how bout you?

          I took some time off although I’ve kept up with what has been happening. Looks like the team is in transition huh?

          1. rocket,
            Don’t stay away too long bud, I need your perspective in times like these (lol).
            Troubled waters over at 4949 Centennial.

            We need very good FA signings and a strong draft to help calm the storm (I hope).

    2. Wasn’t Boone our “swing tackle” a few years ago? I wonder why they don’t try to extend him.

      – The 49ers are still mad about the holdout.
      – Worry that because Boone held out before, he might do it again.
      – He’s really just a guard, and not as good as we once thought at swing tackle.
      – Boone wants to be a starting tackle on another team.

    1. KY …
      we can’t lose Bowman, too !

      If we do.. I may just hafta shoot myself in the foot ..

      (or better yet .. assist Baalke in throwing
      Jed under a bus )

    2. I agree. Borland is good, Wilhoit stepped up, but nothing replaces experience. Nothing. If Bowman did fail his exam and is cut, our defense will be in trouble. Baalke has has work cut out for him.

    3. This could explain why Baalke spent the money he has so far: because he knew he had the capital to do far.

  31. I would feel a lot better about the loss of Smith and Willis if Fangio was still the DC. I’m sorry, but Mangini has shown me nothing that inspires confidence.

    1. “….. I’m sorry, but Mangini has shown me nothing that inspires confidence….”

      Not to mention .. but
      how much confidence does a Geep Chryst inspire ?

      It’s awkward to be the one to be quoting him ..
      but Grant said a mouthful in his latest radio
      interview about Geep …

      and I .. (for one).. share the very same
      concerns that Grant does

    1. Cubus, Baalke’s quote about the 3 headed monster was from two years ago, so it doesn’t necessarily relate to Gore’s departure.

  32. I just hope these departures arent reflective how they view management and how they think the Niners are in for a down cycle.

    1. Would they be hanging around the facility working out if they were so disgusted with the org to be opting out? They’ve both been regulars at the facility lately. Let’s give these guys some credit for making life decisions, they are walking away from significant $.

      1. Life decisions might include the lack of incentive to risk injury playing for what they consider to be an obvious stinker of a team, despite the big money on the table. If there was a real chance at winning a ring, they might likely want to stay. They do have football left, and if the team had a shot to win a ring, they would more than likely stay, but if they leave, it says a lot about what the pros think of the 49ers chances.

      2. While I don’t think the moves of the FO are the sole reason for what is happening in regards to the exodus of players, I think it would be naive to think they didn’t play a part.

        No matter what anyone thinks of Harbaugh, he was respected and admired by a lot of these guys. They saw all the rumors and heard all the nonsense about the turmoil in the locker room last season and that Harbaugh was losing support. These guys aren’t stupid and know that this was a means to an end for the owner and possibly GM. A lot of players were likely unhappy about it, and I would bet some don’t feel very confident in the staff that is now in place. If you’re Justin Smith and don’t believe your team is a contender any longer, it makes your decision a lot easier to retire. Same thing with Willis. The toe may be the reason, but if he sees the end of a serious shot at the SB, then his decision becomes easier.

        That’s not to say both wouldn’t have retired had Harbaugh stayed, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that two icons and leaders of this team have decided to pack it in this early. I know Smith hasn’t fully committed to retiring yet, but I don’t see him staying another year with Willis hanging it up and Gore gone to Philly. Whether Baalke admits it or not, this is now a rebuild, or a transition whichever term is less offensive to you.

        1. I think it would also be fair to say that the way Harbaugh had these guys working the past four years would have taken its toll as well. Harbaugh was well known for “making it suck”. One of the reasons he is a coach that will always have a shelf life in the NFL.

          These guys put their heart and soul into it for three straight years, working their butts off with little respite. At some point after working that hard for so long without the ultimate success it becomes a drudge, and you lose focus. At some point you have to pay the piper. Last year we saw the wheels starting to come off. I see nobody wants to put any credence into the rumours about locker room discontent anymore, and say it was all just a ploy by the FO, but it certainly looked like a number of veterans weren’t playing with the same intensity last season.

          I honestly would not be surprised if one of the factors that led to Willis having an epiphany was that he simply realised he didn’t want to do this anymore, that he didn’t have much left to give.

          1. Very plausible Scooter. A couple of articles related to this story have speculated that Willis is more focused on religion and working with troubled youth. If he’s lost his desire to play then he’s doing the right thing.

          2. “I think it would also be fair to say that the way Harbaugh had these guys working the past four years would have taken its toll as well. Harbaugh was well known for “making it suck”. One of the reasons he is a coach that will always have a shelf life in the NFL.”
            ~ Scooter

            Scooter I don’t recall hearing current or former 49er players complain about being over-worked during Harbaugh’ tenure. Do you have any player comments that bear witness to this?

            1. Vernon Davis has said Harbaugh knows how to make it suck, including how Harbaugh would make the team winning a scrimmage run gassers instead of the losing team. Basically Harbaugh used to make punishment a reward.

              There was an article about Harbaugh last year by Seth Wickersham that outlined much of this stuff.

              1. Can’t remember if it was Wickersham who also alluded to the fact that many players were likely tired and injured because of their 3 straight years of deep playoff runs.
                The lack of intensity down the stretch would certainly hold credence to that as well.

              2. There are a bunch of teams, in particular the Patriots, that seem to be able to do that year in, year out. It is up to the coaching staff to keep them fresh and not let the players burn out.

              3. Agreed Scooter, but it doesn’t hurt to have Tom Brady as your perennial QB-elite and the best Headcoach of the 21st century.

                Harbaugh was always going at 100 miles an hour and his team had to follow suit or fall behind.
                If only one player (Vernon) made a reference to this, I can’t pass that as speaking for the entire team or gospel.

                In any case, Tomsula will likely use the anti-Harbaugh approach in TC and throughout the season. We’ll all see how that pans out.

              4. “Harbaugh was always going at 100 miles an hour and his team had to follow suit or fall behind.”

                Exactly. There is only so long a team can keep going like that before you start getting some burn out in players. Same goes with any organisation.

  33. From Mindi Bach on Twitter:

    “Per source, Justin Smith and Patrick Willis are both to meet with #49ers GM Trent Baalke later today.”

    1. I like “Ready!” “Fire!” “Aim!” better at this time in 69 years plus of 49er history.

  34. The first week of free agency plays with your mind, and I try to ignore it. I am happy to see Gore, Iupati, and Crabtree gone. At this stage in their careers, they were ill suited to the team. Best of luck to them. Their financial managers will certainly do well, and if the players have any money left when they retire, my hat’s off to them. Regarding Willis retiring, I am sorry to see that, but we did ok without him last year, so the sky’s not falling in my house. Regarding losing Justin, I think that hurts, but you never know at his age, besides which there are guys to take his place. Come on, people, buck up. No one’s abandoning the ship, and life will go on.

    1. Thank you George I think everyone needs to read your comment and take a deep breath. I agree. My main concern now is Bowman’s health. If he’s ready to go at a 100%, than I see good things coming with the pairing of him and Borland. Of course Borland is not Willis, by any means, but the guys a tackling machine with a nose for the ball, I think his coverage skills will improve, and he will likely only be in on base packages, while Bowman stays and covers on passing downs. But again Bowman’s health is my biggest concern at this point.

  35. Oh man, I get up and find out Willis is retiring! Big blow. And Justin Smith likely to follow (and to think I got shouted down when I suggested the Dockett signing seemed to me like a pre-cursor to Smith hanging them up).

    Willis really is quite a shock, but I think people saying this decision is a clear indication of locker room dissatisfaction with getting rid of Harbaugh need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Willis is 30, so if healthy could have another 3-4 years of decent play in him. That is a lot of money to throw away if your beef is with the way the coach got let go. And lets face it, if that was the issue wouldn’t you first try and force your way out of the club to go somewhere else?

    No, as Jack mentioned, the far more logical explanation is that other factors are motivating this decision, and I’d suggest health is a big one. I guess he really was the wrong side of 30, hey Grant?

    What is interesting is that I posted the other day about how the team met with Stephone Anthony (ILB Clemson) and how at the time it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. With Willis gone (and rumours that Bowman’s recovery may not be going so well) it all of a sudden makes perfect sense.

    And I think we can safely say any ideas of trading Borland can be shut down. Not happening.

    Justin Smith’s likely retirement is, to be quite honest, something I expected after the team signed Dockett. Dockett just isn’t a fit for the 5-tech, he’s really only a fit for the 3-tech in the 49ers base D. He’ll rotate with Tank, I’d imagine. What will be interesting to see is whether the 49ers look for a DL early in the draft as well. They met with Marcus Hardison (DL, Arizona State), a raw but athletically gifted player. So it may be something they are contemplating. I’d be very happy of they got Preston Smith.

    1. They should have Preston Smiths’ name hermetically sealed in a 49ers company envelope ready to turn in for Round 2….

      1. If they lose both Willis and Bowman, they may be forced to draft a guy like Stephone Anthony in the 2nd round.

        And if they do lose both Willis and Bowman, all of a sudden trading down will make some sense this year.

    2. I agree with you Scooter, big shocker on the Willis front. Didn’t see that one coming, but it seems like the team had a sense of it (at least that’s what Schefter alluded on NFL Live).

      Tim Kawakami has already jumped all over Tomsula/locker room angle, but like you said it’s far more logical to suggest it has something to do with factors outside of football. If he truly wasn’t happy with the direction of the team or Tomsula as HC, wouldn’t he just ask for a trade or release and continue playing elsewhere? I think it’s difficult for folks to realize sometimes that certain things are more important than a football coach or a front office. This is a personal decision by Patrick and his alone.

      What do you think about the FA options at ILB? It looks like slim pickings to me, but is there anyone who catches your eye?

      1. To be honest none of the FA options really look like great fits. I think I’d rather go with what the 49ers already have on the roster + a draft pick.

  36. This will more than likely damage the Waynes pick.
    I’m borderline depressed at this point. At the willis news that is

  37. In positive news, the 49ers have been spared having Ginn as a WR in 2015, courtesy of the Panthers graciously taking him in.

  38. This one should excite Razor!

    @RavensInsider 13m
    49ers bring back Craig Dahl, one-year, $1.3 million deal, including $200,000 signing bonus, $175,000 roster bonus, $50,000 workout bonus

    1. Let us all bow our heads and pray that our starting safeties do not go down this season.

      1. @$!# it Razor! I told you to throw those at Dahl’s head. We both know he wouldn’t catch either one of them.

    2. Bad for Razor’s blood pressure. I wouldn’t mind seeing a S added somewhere for depth. Reid’s concussions are worrisome.

      1. Bethea isn’t a spring chicken either. For some reason, this feels like a boat that as soon as one leak is plugged, up spring 2 more….

      2. Dahl’s coverage is even more worrisome.
        (You know, aside from the human factor of Reid’s health)

    3. Well, Dahl did take a 400K pay cut: 200K for the times he appeared in the corner of the TV camera frame just after a pass or a TD had been completed, and 200K for the other garden-variety lost-in-coverage cases.

  39. Source: #49ers offer to Frank Gore is for 1 year for roughly $4 million. All of the money, essentially, would be guaranteed.

    1. Reasonable offer. I’d been hoping that the Niners would offer 2-year, $8M, $5M guaranteed. Well, Frank lost a lot of money in an investment scam. Goodbye Frank, and wishing you three thousand-yard seasons and a HoF jacket. In future, just listen to Warren Buffet and invest in low-cost index funds, not your old buddy from Coral Gables who mysteriously turned into an investment banker overnight….

  40. No Justin. No Willis. McDonald already gone.
    Can’t wait to see them try to stop AP two times a year after he signs wih Arizona.
    Saddest offseason in recent memory…

  41. From a friend who is retired from my department:

    “It’s a travesty. Twiddle Dee (York) and Twiddle Dum (Balke) are ruining this storied franchise. Willis and Smith should go coach with Harbaugh at Michigan. Can you imagine how much effort it took for Harbaugh to have to deal with those idiots on a daily basis?”

    Could not have said it better myself…

  42. PFT reporting that niners have released Stevie Johnson:

    49ers released WR Stevie Johnson.
    Johnson refused to accept a pay cut, ending his stint in San Francisco after one season. The fast-downward-trending 49ers gave up a fourth-round pick for him last offseason. Per NBC Washington’s Dianna Marie Russini, Johnson is expected to sign with a new team “quickly.” We’d guess Chan Gailey’s Jets would be interested had they not recently traded for Brandon Marshall.
    Related: 49ers
    Source: Dianna Marie Russini on Twitter

  43. I can handle losing Gore, Iupati, Willis, Justin, Culliver, Crabtree… but I’m totally bummed about retaining Dahl.

  44. Tomorrow is going to be a wild day. I suspect that if for some reason we do not sign Torrey Smith, the entire 49ers fan base will explode.

  45. @AdamSchefter 2m
    49ers free-agent G Mike Iupati has told people he plans to sign with the Arizona Cardinals, per sources. Iupati vs. SF DT Darnell Dockett.

      1. No it will likely be a very bad deal for the Cards. A LG who is not good in pass protection protecting a statue with bad knees in Carson Palmer. For this they will likely pay him about 9 mill a year. Go for it AZ!

        1. Iupati is still very young. You don’t give up on these kinda guys who take awhile to become all around good offensive linemen.
          Sure he has struggled in pass protection but you don’t make it to 3 pro bowls being a one dimensional linemen.
          A 33 year old DL coming off major knee surgery vs. a young beast of an OL coming into his own at 27 yearsold, 17th overall? Win AZ.
          Let’s hope big Mike has a change of heart. If not AZ run game just got sooooo much better.

          1. Pretty ironic considering you are ready to dump a 27 year old QB who was a top ten player his first two seasons.

            Iupati turns 28 in May and is going into his 6th season. He is not very young and not being able to pass protect this far into his career is a red flag. He is a one dimensional player who has made the probowl on reputation for being a tough run blocker. If a LG can’t be counted on to hold up in protection then he’s not worth what Iupati is about to be paid. There is a reason the Niners drafted Brandon Thomas last year. Iupati is going to get overpaid and they don’t want to be the ones who do it.

  46. Brodie, not sure if you’re joking or not. If you’re not, here’s an argument for Dahl: Niners Nation: “Dahl was the team’s primary backup safety this past year, but his value is on special teams. Pro Football Focus rated him the best among the 49ers on punt coverage and in the return team.” Regarding his play at safety, isn’t it true that Ward can switch over, as can one or more of the guys they drafted last year for CB?

    1. I was joking. Dahl actually played well in the last game vs the Cards.

    2. @George…good post….I believe that there are several on here who are just woofing about even following the sport. Y’know, there’re experts on here darn near everywhere you look

  47. I respect the fact that these athletes know when the game doesn’t mean as much as it used to, to them. So in that thought, they should retire and not just play for the money.
    Willis was a guy who gave it all he had every single snap. If he feels he can’t do that anymore or doesn’t want to do it anymore, then I respect his wishes to retire.

    1. About a month ago I posted that I though Lockette would be a good pickup as a replacement for Osgood.

  48. “@JasonPhilCole lists the #49ers as the first team interested in Greg Hardy once he’s eligible to be a FA”

    Pure class.

    1. was Hardy guilty of anything?

      that would be a great signing….the guy is a beast

    2. A coworker of mine has a brother who is an assistant coach on the collegiate level. The head coach for the team has a saying while as terrible as it sounds, there’s a some truth to it.

      “A good kid will get you fired.”

      Jed York should have never let those words leave his mouth. You can think it, say it behind closed doors, but never publicly. Especially in the NFL.

    3. I’ll admit that as a fan I would be excited about the signing, but not at the expense of whatever “class” we have left.

      I cannot defend the actions of this FO any longer.

    4. “Pure class.”

      Lol! Jed’s idiotic statement continues to bite him on the backside.

    5. Jed will likely take a long trip somewhere if they sign Hardy. No way he could explain that one away.

    1. Dang. He’s in our division. That Cards are assembling alot of talent.

    2. I refuse to worry about that unless I hear that AP has been traded to the Cardinals.

  49. NFL.Com reports Justin Smith has not 100% decided about retirement yet and will let everyone know early next week, so there is some hope.
    I an so sad to hear Patrick will retire. he has been a great player and should go into the Hall of Fame. That said; football is a brutal sport and I can’t blame a player who doesn’t want to further damage their body, or isn’t 100% committed to play any longer.

    1. it may be in his best interest to take the week and see what the the roster reflects first.

  50. @RapSheet 2m
    Free agent shocker: Frank Gore reconsiders potential/pending deal with the #Eagles, I’m told.

    1. @RapSheet 1m
      With negotiations still ongoing — no deals are final — keep an eye on the #Colts for the coveted services of RB Frank Gore.

      1. Colts are a good landing spot for Gore. A smart quarterback paired with a smart running back. Playing with Andrew Luck will keep those 9-in-the-box defenses to a minimum. Barring injury… 1,150 yards, over 4.6 YPC.

      2. From a personal point of view I would like to see Frank playing with Andrew Luck. He might have a better chance at a Superbowl there too.

      1. Eagles: Frank, we’re going to have to let you go.

        Gore: But I don’t even work here.

        Eagles: I know. That’s what makes this so difficult.

  51. I wonder if Jed and Trent are putting a script together on how to lose with class………

  52. Justin says he will decide in a week.

    “Although All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis plans to walk away from the game after eight seasons, San Francisco 49ers defensive end Justin Smith isn’t prepared to make a retirement decision just yet.

    “I’m going to decide by next week probably,” Smith told the Sacramento Bee on Monday. “So you’ll know by then. It’s not 100 percent.”

  53. Spoiler Alert!!!

    “I like Smith. Always have. He’s a solid player and truly a great guy/teammate.

    But in four NFL seasons, he has surpassed 50 catches just once. Smith isn’t an elite wideout. And the Ravens know that.

    One AFC personnel director told me that Smith will be joining the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday. He won’t be a star there, either. But there will be big expectations and a bulls-eye on his back when the contract details are eventually revealed.

    Before Ravens fans lament these likely defections, understand the brilliance of your organization. Baltimore will be just fine. The questions will lie with these players’ new teams.”

    1. There in lies what I see being the biggest issue – fan expectations.

      Torrey Smith is an excellent deep threat WR. He is not a complete WR. Expecting him to be catching 70 – 80 passes a year is very unrealistic. But I do fear that fans will see anything less than that as being a failure.

      However, he is a guy that can open things up for every other offensive player. He’s a very good #2 WR. For a team like the 49ers that are primarily a ground based team, he is a guy that can provide big plays if a team commits to defending the run, or help open up the running game and other receivers if teams commit a safety to help cover him deep.

      The cost will be high, but the value he provides goes well beyond the numbers he’ll put up.

      1. There in lies what I see being the biggest issue – fan expectations.

        Sorry Scooter, but the probability that he expects to be paid like a #1 WR leads towards fans expecting quite a bit. I looked up his draft profile and the same things that are classified as negatives about him now are the same things said about him when he was drafted. He’s a faster version of Crabtree minus the hands needed in the clutch.

        1. Yeah, but fans are often misinformed. They tend to focus on stats, not on what the player does other than what the stats indicate.

          1. He isn’t helping his cause if he is wanting to be paid like a #1 WR though.

            1. Why not? Why should he limit his earning value to what fans believe a WR should produce?

              1. You said it yourself that he’s a very good #2 WR. A #2 WR isn’t worth a #1 WR salary.

              2. Depends on what you consider the #2 and #1 WRs to be. I consider the #1 WR to be the one that gets the most catches and targets.

                Torrey Smith is a guy that means your #1 WR can be a possession WR like Boldin. Boldin will almost certainly end up with more catches than Smith next year if they sign Smith, maybe even more yards, but Smith may just be the more important WR for the team.

              3. I see it as a positive that Smith has caught less passes during his career and is willing (hopefully, fingers crossed) to come to the 49ers. It sounds, then, like he is willing to accept a role as a #2 and hopefully won’t develop a diva complex.

            2. For what it is worth Football Outsiders ranked him as the 10th best wideout last season in terms of Yards Above Replacement (YAR) and Defense Adjusted YAR (DYAR), and 8th best in terms of Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA).

              One of the reasons he was rated so highly was because despite recording less receiving yards than many other WRs, he also produced 11 PI penalties worth 229 yards. The next closest was Jordy Nelson with 6 for 129 yards.

      1. Lol Borland? The guy who got ran over by lynch and can’t cover anyone?
        This kid has got some of you trippin.

  54. The FO has done a lot of things wrong, but blaming them for Willis is crazy. It is being reported that his foot isn’t healing and he has problems with his other foot too. He says he has not been playing at his usual level the last two seasons and that really bothers him. So it sounds like the coaching staff is irrelevant to his decision.
    I love Gore, but I didn’t think it made sense to pay him almost $8 million in guaranteed money. However; with the Cap space that Patrick’s retirement will create the Niner’s could up their offer some. I would do something like a $4M signing bonus; $2M salary in 15, $3M in 16 and a $1M bonus for each year he runs for more than 1K yards.

  55. And the hits just keep on coming….

    Bruce Miller arrested on suspicion of battery on 3/5.


    1. Big wheel keep on turnin’
      Proud York keeps on spewin’
      Rollin’ down the rankings

    2. The 49ers need to gather together holding hands around a camp fire and rebuild from the top down.

    3. 49ers would save at least $407k off the cap should they choose to hold firm on the precedent they set back in December.

  56. Ok, so based on the recent changes over the last 48 hours, I will revise my original mock draft as of today.

    Like in my first mock, I will only pick 4-5 rounds with the last two rds being used for BPA.

    1. La’el Collins, G LSU (agree with Grant on this one)
    2. Denzel Perryman ILB Miami (Willis is gone and Bowman is a question mark)
    3. Carl Davis DT Iowa (could supplant Tank and Dial, a steal if he’s still on the board)
    4. Kevin Johnson CB Wake Forrest (a sleeper)
    5. Javorius Allen RB USC (not the prototypical COP RB, but very productive with deceiving speed, good blocker and good hands, huge get if he makes it to the 5th rd)

    *The signing of J.Simpson and possibly Torry Smith should fortify our WR corps and add outside speed – hence, no need to draft high at the WR position.

    *My mock will continue to change as players come and go.

    1. Nice AES. But I think you’ve been sleeping on Kevin Johnson while everyone else has cottoned on. CBS have him as a fringe first rounder.

      At ILB I’d much prefer Stephone Anthony in the 2nd to Perryman. The 49ers already have their undersized, limited athlete ILB in Borland. They need to pair him with someone with sideline to sideline range.

      1. Scooter,
        True on K.Johnson. I looked at S.Anthony and his size is impressive, but Perryman’ defensive production is unquestionable. He is a tackling machine in the mold of one Patrick Willis.

        With our defense playing about 80% in the 3-4 we will need a strong inside LB who can get to the RB quickly. Perryman fills that need and also has the speed to cover sideline to sideline.
        At 6’4″ Anthony could be leveraged blocked because he is a big target. Anthony reminds me a lot of Ahmad Brooks who takes too many plays off.

        1. I agree on Perryman, I like him as a player. If the 49ers didn’t already have a guy very similar to him in Borland I’d say go for it.

          I had a discussion the other day when Grant was talking up trading Borland. Borland is a very good player if used correctly, but he does have some weaknesses you need to manage. One of those weaknesses is his ability as a sideline to sideline player – he can be beat to the edge.

          In a 3-4 Borland is a good strongside ILB (kind of like the Mike in a 4-3, but as he is typically shaded over the B gap his responsibilities are more limited than a 4-3 Mike). That means you need a weakside ILB (kind of like a WILL in a 4-3, but typically shaded over the weakside A gap) next to him with excellent range. Anthony would be a good fit as the weakside ILB, much like Ryan Shazier that was drafted by the Steelers last year, but I think Perryman’s best fit would be in Borland’s role as the strongside ILB.

          1. If Dawson were to fall similar to Borland after the poor showing in the underwear contest, I think he would be a perfect fit as the Will….

            1. Not for me. You can’t afford to have two sub-par athletes playing next to each other at ILB.

              1. Yea, figured we’d disagree on that one. Contrary to his Underwear Olympics numbers, Paul Dawson is extremely athletic imo. Moot point anyway because if Kendricks is gone, I don’t see Dawson getting past the Packers….

    2. AES,

      Your 3rd and 4th round picks won’t be there. As Scooter said Johnson is a borderline 1st round pick in most of the draft sites out there and definitely not a sleeper. Davis is a late first/second on most.

  57. How much do you think wilfork will demand? Maybe plug him in the middle and shuffle people around. I know he isn’t in his prime but he can plug the middle and still take on double teams.

    1. I think we are set on inside linebacker. We just need depth at this point depending on injuries.

  58. So far the change is sad but i don’t think it is bad. Willis retiring is kind of a gift. He is my 2nd favorite player but i will truly miss cowboy. He has been the biggest difference maker on defense.

  59. Are the Niners going to go hunting Revis? Hope he doesn’t land you know where.

    1. I am interested in seeing how they wind up paying their QB. I read an article that stated Miami signing Suh to $114 million deal with $60 million guaranteed is going to force Seattle to the brink.

        1. Lineman, defensive lineman in particular, do not get paid more than typical QB’s. The Suh signing raise the bar all the way around for all players. With Wilson being a SB winning QB they will have to pay him more than what Suh is getting. Kaep got $61 million guaranteed, Wilson has to get more. As HT said, the tide went WAY up, it’s good for players, bad for owners.

  60. Seriously? Eric freaking MANGINI? He’s just a very ordinary coach and the opposition coach is ALWAYS better. That’s why Mangini bounces around. The 49ers are now coached by guys they had to settle for because the best said no to them. This is now the least attractive franchise in the NFL to come to or stay with.

  61. anyone hear of the reported number we are offering Torrey Smith? I saw the crabtree number with the bills and was curious

    1. The number I saw yesterday was an average of about $8 million per year for Smith. The Crabtree to the Bills post yesterday turned out to be a hoax. That post showed an average of $10 million per year, but again it was a hoax, so don’t know. IMO, that is much to high for Crabtree.

      I’m hoping we can get him for $8 million per year. I have this bad feeling that he’s going to want more at the eleventh hour if for no other reason than the niners now have more cap space available and his agent knows it.

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