49ers ink veteran DE Justin Smith to 2-year contract extension
Entering a contract year, Smith was hoping this won’t be his final season in San Francisco coming off his 12th career season in the league. Now he can rest assured that his stint with the team will continue through 2015 and no retirement plans will be in the horizon, after the 49ers brought back arguably their most valuable into folds available member of their defense.
"Usually in the NFL, a chance to maybe go out on your own terms ... I've never dreamed that would happen," Smith said. "I'm pumped about that."
According to several reports, Smith got down to negotiating an deal with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke himself, to come-up with a short-term extension that would serve both parties’ interest. Smith was scheduled to make $7.5 million this season, in the final season of a six-year, $45 million contract he signed with the 49ers in 2008. While he can continue headlining the teams’ defensive line, the move likely created some cap space for the 49ers as well.
"At this point in my career and my agent and stuff, it wasn't about that,” Smith said of contract negotiations with the 49ers. “It was about wanting to be here, wanting to play and having an opportunity to be on a great team and go for the championship. That's what it's all about. Having that opportunity, I feel real lucky, real fortunate."
Smith finished with his second-lowest career sack total (3 sacks) after missing the final few games of the 2012 season with a partially torn tricep in his left arm. However, he proved his value to the 49ers after returning to the defensive line in the team’s postseason run. During Justin Smith’s absence, linebacker Aldon Smith, who had 19½ sacks last season, was unable to record a single sack, struggling to make an impact without his bodyguard in the lineup.
Over his five seasons in San Francisco, Justin Smith has amassed 536 tackles, seven forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and one interception; while his 32 sacks since joining the team in 2008 rank him first among NFL defensive tackles over that span. He has also made four straight Pro Bowls with the 49ers. He also earned other honors such as being named an Associated Press first-team All-Pro (2012) and second-team All-Pro (2011, 2012). Among his teammates, Justin Smith has been recognized for his contributions with the prestigious Len Eshmont Award (2011, 2012), Matt Hazeltine Iron Man Award (2010, 2011), and Bill Walsh Award (2008, 2011).
"Justin's All-Pro contributions on the field, as well as his leadership on and off the field, are integral to our success," Trent Baalke said in a statement. "Justin consistently sets a standard of excellence, serving as an example for everyone within our organization. This contract allows Justin to finish his career as a 49er!"