Justin Smith wouldn’t say whether he planned to return to the 49ers for a 15th NFL season as he prepared for a Monday morning workout. But the defensive lineman said he probably would stop by the team facility Wednesday to talk with coach Jim Tomsula about the future.
“Parys is going to flip a coin,” Smith joked of workout partner Parys Haralson when asked about his decision.
The 49ers also plan to meet with another veteran defensive lineman, Darnell Dockett, over the next two days.
Dockett has been a frequent scourge of the 49ers over the years, but Arizona recently released him to save salary cap space. The Arizona Republic has reported the Cardinals have offered him a one-year, incentive-laden contract.
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Dockett, 33, is two years younger than Smith. He sat out last season with an ACL injury but missed only two games in the previous 10 seasons. Dockett also is a prolific trash talker and once got into a lengthy Twitter battle with 49ers tight end Vernon Davis – they are friends from the Washington, D.C., area – and 49ers fans.
“49er fans keep talking bout the old championships they have lol,” Dockett wrote in 2010. “I wasn’t even in the NFL then. How pitaful (sic) stop talking bout the old baby!”
Smith has been consistently noncommittal about whether he’ll play this season, and Tomsula and general manager Trent Baalke said recently that they’ll give him time to decide.
“I told Justin at that time after the season ended, go home, get away from it for a while, take care of the family and once we got back from the combine, we’d sit down and talk and see where his mind was at that time,” Baalke said during last month’s NFL scouting combine.
Smith still is one of the top defensive linemen in the league, and the 49ers want him back. But he has dealt with injuries – to his triceps tendon, shoulder and back – in each of the last three years, and he has contemplated retirement in previous seasons.
When the 2014 season ended, it seemed Smith had played his last snap. The Showtime series “Inside the NFL” even reported he had retired. That wasn’t the case, and there has been cautious optimism he will return for one more season.
Smith has been training regularly, including at the 49ers’ practice facility. On Monday, he was preparing for a bleacher workout at San Jose State with Haralson, a former 49ers teammate who plays for the Saints, and former teammate Ray McDonald, a free agent.
The 49ers cut McDonald in December after San Jose police named him as a suspect in an alleged sexual assault. The Santa Clara District Attorney’s office said Monday it still is reviewing the case and a resolution is not expected soon.
McDonald has not been arrested or charged, leaving him in limbo, much as Colin Kaepernick, Quinton Patton and Ricardo Lockett were last year in Miami. The trio eventually were cleared in the investigation there.
Smith has not been acting like a retiree. He appears to be in excellent shape, although Baalke warned not to read too much into his offseason habits.
“He’s building a home back in Missouri, and one of the first things he built was a weight room,” Baalke said during the combine. “That’s just the way he’s wired. That’s part of his life. That’s why he’s been as successful as he’s been throughout his career.”
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.