Justin Smith today said he hasn't "100 percent" decided on his status for the 2015 season. The 49ers' veteran defensive lineman has another year remaining on his contract but is contemplating retirement.
"I'm going to decide by next week probably," Smith said. "So you'll know by then. It's not 100 percent."
The 14-year NFL veteran gave that quote between intervals of running up the side of Spartan Stadium on the San Jose State campus. Smith's rigorous workout regimen, which has included sessions at the 49ers facility, had encouraged some team officials that Smith perhaps would return for a 15th season.
However, when he met with those same officials on Wednesday, there was no announcement that he'd be back. Instead the team signed another veteran lineman, Darnell Dockett, to a free-agent contract. One long-time 49er, linebacker Patrick Willis, has decided to retire. CSN Bay Area reported this morning that Smith was expected to do the same.
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Smith has been consistently noncommittal about whether he’ll play this season, and coach Jim Tomsula, who served as Smith's position coach since 2008, and general manager Trent Baalke have given him plenty of leeway to decide his future.
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.
Smith has been working out with ex-teammates Parys Haralson and Ray McDonald at San Jose State. Last month Baalke warned not to read too much into that workout routine.
“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.