A third member of the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers defense has officially called it a career this offseason.
Defensive tackle Justin Smith announced his retirement from the NFL today. Instead of returning for his 15th year in the League, the two-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler will join linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland as 49ers players to recently retire.
"It was a good ride," Smith told reporters via conference call on Monday. "You guys ain't going to get me in a room and make me cry and all that stuff. It was a pretty cut and dry decision the whole time and just went from there."
Of concern for Smith moving forward - and a big factor in his choice to step away from the game - was a 2013 injury to his left shoulder that never fully healed.
"If you don't have the tools, you can't do that job," said Smith. "It's time to go."
Smith started 217 of the 221 games he played, finishing with 1,370 tackles, 87.0 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, three interceptions, and 30 passes defensed.
"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," San Francisco 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."
As ESPN Insider Mike Sando notes, Smith's retirement leaves just three defensive starters from the 49ers' 2012 Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens - linebackers Ahmad Brooks, NaVorro Bowman, and Aldon Smith.
Options to replace the 36-year-old Smith include former Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, who signed in free agency this offseason, and Oregon defensive end Arik Armstead, who the team took in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.