The San Francisco 49ers signed defensive end/tackle Justin Smith to a two-year contract extension on Wednesday, and his media conference after signing the deal was everything you'd expect from the man they call Cowboy.
I transcribed the press conference below, and there were some great comments from Smith. When asked about getting the deal done, he said it was simple because the 49ers wanted him around, and he wanted to stick around. That seems fairly simple, but oftentimes negotiations can get more complicated. Smith handled the deal himself, following what sounds like a pretty simple discussion with Trent Baalke.
Smith recently parted ways with CAA Football, and it sounds like he has not added an agent. This is not surprising given that he is not a big endorser, and as he said, this is probably his final NFL contract. Gregg Rosenthal speculated that it is possible CAA was not a fan of the potential contract, so he got rid of them and did it himself. We'll never know for certain, other than to know the deal is done.
Smith re-emphasized his point from last year that he will go out when he doesn't feel he can play at his current level. He said would not be a guy who plays 10 or 20 snaps. As he put it, "And, it's time to get my ass outta here, I'm going. So, I'll get a ticket like everybody else, that's what I'm doing." Gotta love it.
Q: We were just talking last week about the whole contract thing. Did you know that there would be an expedited timetable.
A: No...You know, Trent is real personable and just came and talked to me. It was pretty simply and straightforward. Not too difficult.
Q: Just all in the last few days?
A: Yea, just real recently, so went good. I wanted to be here, so that makes it simple. They want me to be here and I want to be here, so that makes it easy.
Q: You did all this yourself? Negotiated...I guess there wasn't much negotiation.
A: At this point in my career, my agent and stuff, it wasn't about that. It was about wanting to be here, wanting to play, have an opportunity to be on a great team, and go for the championship. And that's what it's all about. Having that opportunity, I feel real luck, real fortunate.
Q: What is it about, being here since 2008. Why do you like it so much?
A: I think it's like anything. It's the talent around ya, that allows you to play better. And I mean, that's what I said when I first got here. It's the most talented roster I've been apart of, and it's just gotten better. Trent and everybody involved keeps adding pieces, keeping the right pieces, not letting them go, and I just wanna be apart of it. And being able to do that going into Year 13 and 14, you know, I feel real lucky.
Q: You think this will be your final contract?
A: Yea (sort of sheepish sounding). If I was to guess I'd say yea, for sure.
Q: When you look at this defense, what do you think needs to be done to get you back on track?
A: I think it's just the little things. It always is. Fine-tuning those, getting into camp, realize how we're getting schemed against. It's just like anything, once something's had success, a certain offense a certain defense, that's what other teams are spending time on, and how do you attack it. I think going in, doing a little self-scouting like we've been doing, we've recognized some of those and some of the things we need to clean up from each individual player, on how we play standpoint, I think it's gonna help us moving forward.
Q: Do you guys think you played better two years than you did last season?
A: Well, like I said, I think it's a matter of, the more tape you get out there, you've got I call them football nerds sitting up in a room. You know, how do you attack this, how can we beat this scheme, what they're doing, what their personnel is, what weaknesses do they have? So I think it's just a matter of time of teams really focus in on us and there's a way to counter that. I think the coaching staff has done a real good job addressing that this offseason. How we're gonna improve.
Q: Was it a factor at all for you to ensure you'd be playing in that new stadium?
A: Ah, no, that really wasn't a factor. It's a cool benefit, but you know cool plus, but no.
Q: They used an early second round pick on a defensive end, and a fifth round pick on another lineman. At that point, were you thinking, they're obviously looking for my replacement?
A: No, I think it's just the NFL. You always bring in people, you're always bringing in competition. Coach Harbaugh tells you first day, there's only so many seats, you guys are fighting for them, good luck. And that's the way the National Football League is. You know that coming in, you know that going out. No, you're never surprised when someone gets picked or drafted, or a free agent comes in. That's just part of it.
Q: Are you able to talk now about how difficult it was to play with your arm injury in the playoffs? Is it something that, did it get progressively worse with every game you played?
A: As an injury it was. You know, like I said, I've moved on from that. We're moving on to 2013 and that's all I'm focused on. But, the good news is it's healed, it's close to 100% for what I want it to be. I feel good about it, feel confident about the season.
Q: What are you bench-pressing these days?
A: Oh, I'm up over four plates now.
Q: That's it?
A: Yea, that's it. I got another six weeks to go, so it's going good. You know, I've never been injured like that, so I didn't know anything with the rehab process, what to expect. You know, what coming out of that surgery would be like.
Q: Is it about what your surgeons told you it would be in terms of the process?
A: Yea, I mean they were, I was in there asking all these questions. It's your first one, it's like your first kid. You're going a little overboard with everything. It was easy, real easy.
Q: This is your roots now, right? The Bay Area, after that first helicopter ride as a free agent? Do you ever leave here?
A: I don't know what I'll do in the future, but I know right now I'm excited about playing here and this opportunity. Usually in the NFL, you know a chance to go out on your own terms, so to speak, I never dreamed that would happen. I'm pumped about that.
Q: Justin, you expect to play the full three years, or you might leave early?
A: I don't know. I'm playing this one, I know that for a fact. And then we'll go from there. But I feel good, that's the main thing.
Q: You told us last year at this time that you didn't want to be the guy that plays a handful of snaps at the end of his career. Is anything like that built into this extension, you know language about playing time?
A: Yea, there's ways for both of us...that's not going to happen. I said that, I meant that. I won't be the guy who's around for 10 snaps, 20 snaps. It's either, I'm going or I'm not going. And, it's time to get my ass outta here, I'm going. So, I'll get a ticket like everybody else, that's what I'm doing.