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49ers DL Smith retires

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San Francisco 49ers defensive end Justin Smith, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, announced his retirement from the NFL after 14 seasons on Monday.

Smith joined the 49ers as a free agent in 2008. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft.

“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,” said 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula. “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.”

Smith started 217 of 221 games in which he played, including a streak of 185 consecutive starts from his rookie season through December of 2012, and was twice voted 49ers MVP by teammates.

He finished his career with 1,370 tackles, 87.0 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, three interceptions and 30 passes defensed.

Smith posted at least 5.0 sacks in 12 of his 14 seasons played and is one of 13 players, since sacks became an official statistic in 1982, to register 5.0 or more sacks in 12 or more seasons.

“Justin is the consummate professional whose impact on this organization can never be measured by statistics alone,” said 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. “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.”


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