San Francisco 49ers defensive end, Justin Smith, has announced his decision to retire.
The 35-year-old Pro Bowler made the announcement on Monday (May 18), after 14 seasons.
“Tough. Physical. Durable. Hard-working. Dedicated. Selfless. Justin embodies each of those qualities and brought even more with him to work each and every day,” 49ers CEO Jed York said in a statement.
“Whether it was chasing down a wide receiver and forcing a fumble to seal a win, or driving a tackle back into the quarterback’s chest, he gave everything he had every play. Justin has earned the respect of the entire NFL community and he will always be remembered as one of the 49ers all-time greats.”
Smith was selected with the fourth overall pick of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, where he played until 2008 when he became an unrestricted free agent. The 49ers would sign him that off-season, landing one of the top free agents on the market at the time. A year later, he was selected to his first Pro Bowl… and would represent the team as an all-star five times.
He finished his career with 1,370 tackles, 87.0 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, three interceptions and 30 passes defensed.