The 49ers are kicking off their final day of minicamp practice right about now, but they made some players available to the media this morning. Justin Smith was one such player, and he chatted about how the 49ers window of opportunity to win a championship. The general point of his comments was that teams are not stacked with talent forever. The 49ers have a young defense, but given the issues of free agency and having late draft picks after strong years, the window can close.
What I found a bit more interesting was his comment about his own time left in the league:
Q: You mentioned windows. Do you think about your own window?
JUSTIN SMITH: Sure. I figure I've got three more good years in me, four more good years. I don't want to be the guy who becomes the third down guy who plays 17 (snaps). I don't want to do that. I'm figuring let's go, you know? Time is of the essence for me, not everybody else. We have a young defense, but I think everybody feels the urgency and we've got the guys right now. Let's not wait.
For most professional athletes we hear about how they want to go out on top and not stick around too long...and then we see them practically being forced into retirement after they've hung around three or four years later than they should have. It is interesting at this point to hear a player at the top of his game speak about the mortality of his career.
The 49ers have several players they are developing as they look to the future on the defensive line. Ricky Jean Francois has been the primary backup on the line, but Will Tukuafu and Demarcus Dobbs are getting a chance to prove they can be long-term options. Dobbs has solid athleticism, but would seem to be moderately undersized. Of course, a couple years of development could get him closer to what the 49ers might need long term. I suspect we'll see quite a bit of all three players when the preseason gets going