49ers

Justin Smith retires; San Francisco 49ers hurting

Justin Smith announced Monday at a press Conferance that he will retire, ending months of speculation and uncertainty for the San Francisco 49ers, via Yahoo Sports!

Smith played 14 seasons in the NFL after being drafted 4th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2001. After seven good seasons with the Bengals, he left in free agency for the San Francisco 49ers, where he had his best, most memorable years. During his time in the Bay Area, he made five Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro defensive tackle in 2011, second team All-Pro defensive-end in 2011 (the first player to be  on the first and second All-Pro teams at two differant positions), and 2nd-team All-Pro at defensive tackle and end in 2012.

For a defensive tackle in a 3-4 alignment, ‘Cowboy’ had surpringly pretty good stats. He ended up collecting 1,370 tackles, 87.0 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, and three interceptions over the course of his career.

Of course, his production went way beyond the stat-sheet. He played in largely a two-gap system for most of his career, meaning he was supposed to pull lineman laterally, not move up the field and collect stats. In this system, the linebackers collect the stats as they also collect tackles and sacks without lineman bearing down on them.

Because of Smith, the 49ers had a run of incredible linebacker play, from veteran studs like Patrick Willis to “slow” rookies such as Chris Borland. 

Smith leaves a 49ers’ defense that has lost a lot of talent this offseason but will miss him the most. 

Players like Justin Smith are incredibly rare and hard to find, a fact Head Coach Jim Timsula noted during the press conferance.

“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.”

Tomsula’s job just got a lot harder as he has to replace Smith with a mixture of Tank Carredine, Tony Jerrod-Eddie, Darnell Dockett, and first round pick Arik Armstead. 

Armstead is long on potential but short on production and will most likely need a scholarhsip year while Dockett is coming off a torn ACL. Eddie is just a starter, nothing spectacular, and does not excel at rushing the passer. That leaves Tank Carredine, who has looked good in limited plays but has never been the focal point of a defensive-line.

He’s no Justin Smith. 

Nobody is, and the 49ers’ defense will suffer because of it.

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Pressley Nietering

Pressley Nietering is an up-and-coming writer. He will attend Clemson University. Follow him on Twitter @Pressme
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