Justin Smith Has a Lot of 'Good Football' Left in Him



The San Francisco 49ers don't have any pending free agents in the starting defensive front seven.

But there's a possibility that 14-year veteran defensive tackle Justin Smith elects to retire and not finish out the two-year contract extension he negotiated himself in June of 2013.

Vic Fangio, Smith's defensive coordinator for the past four seasons, suggested last month that he would head to Missouri in the offseason to convince the five-time Pro Bowl selection to continue his succesful NFL career.

When asked on Tuesday if Fangio is Missouri-bound this offseason, the veteran coach simply replied, "I hope not."

Fangio still sees a highly productive defensive lineman in Smith, who has rarely practiced this season and has played less snaps this year than in recent memory. Smith has still remained productive under those conditions. He's started all 15 games on the 7-8 squad and is second on the team with five sacks. Smith is also fifth on the 49ers with 43 tackles.

"I still think he's got a lot of good football left in him," Fangio said of his defenisve co-captain. "I think he'll do the right thing and take some time before he makes any decision and go from there. Would love to talk to him at any point."

Smith said on Dec. 4 that he hasn't "given any thought" to retiring.

Smith will consider the possibility in the offseason, which is now less than a week away with the 49ers failing to qualify for postseason play for the first time since the pre-Fangio days in '10.

If the '14 season is Smith's last year in pro football, Fangio has plenty of fond memories of the player known by those around him as "Cowboy."

"I think the one thing that defines him is that he's just a true warrior in the truest football sense of the word," Fangio said. "The guy is as tough as anybody I've ever been around, accountable as anybody I've been around. He has played through injuries that most people wouldn't have played through. He doesn't talk about them."

Smith played hurt in '13. A training camp triceps injury left Smith to play "a whole season last year with half an arm," Fangio said.

"There are a lot of guys that wouldn't have even gone out there," Fangio said. "But the guy loves football, loves playing, loves competing. He's definitely in my personal top three or five Hall of Fame (players) that I've been around."

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