The SB Nation NFL blogs are in the midst of promoting the new re-boot of RoboCop, and as part of it, we have been tasked with deciding which player we would turn into a robot so they could stick around forever.
The 49ers have a lot of serious machines on the roster, most notably on defense. The easy choice would be adding some robotic parts to NaVorro Bowman's knee. He will undergo ACL surgery in the next couple weeks, so why not just give him an indestructible ACL? Or maybe we turn Eric Reid into a robot so we can avoid those infernal concussions?
Rather than turning a specific player into a robot, I figured why not consider a player who just might have a little robot in him: Justin Smith. The 49ers defensive lineman frequently flies under the radar from a national perspective, but year in and year out he continues to produce. Even when he is suffering some kind of malady, he somehow works his way through it. He played with a torn triceps muscle during last season's playoff run, and yet even one-armed he was still taking care of business.
The question now is how much time does Cowboy have left? I don't see him showing signs of slowing down, but at some point it has to happen. We've seen mock drafters looking at the situation as, "well, eventually Justin Smith has to slow down." And the 49ers did bring in Tank Carradine as a potential long-term answer on the defensive line.
As the 49ers head into the 2014 offseason, they have their all-world defensive lineman signed through the 2015 season. Back during 2012 OTAs, Smith talked about the window left for his career. At the time, Smith said he had three or four more good years left. He did not want to be a situational guy at any point, and seemed fine getting out while he was still on top.
It will be interesting to see what Smith does if the 49ers can make a run to Lombardi No. 6 next season. I think Smith plays because he loves the game, but if he could get a ring, maybe that would be enough to go off in style. I could see him walking away and disappearing to a life under the radar, much like he's spent his playing days. For now, he remains on top of his game. Hopefully he can get himself a ring this coming season.