It's official. Marvel Smith has announced his retirement The 49ers announced it just now and Coach Mike Singletary had this to say:
"I would like to thank Marvel for his service to the 49ers organization over the last several months," said head coach Mike Singletary. "Marvel and I have spoken, and I know that this was not a decision he took lightly. We appreciate that he came to us when he did with this decision, and wish him well in the next chapter of his life."
Personally I feel bad for the guy. He's spent his life as a football player and he has reached a point where his body just won't let him do this anymore. It's a shame for it to happen to anybody, but particularly a young guy (he only just turned 31).
When Pro Football Talk's report that Marvel Smith was going to retire went down yesterday, reaction was certainly swift and mostly negative. Obviously given the circumstances it's understandable for people to be upset, but as many of you should expect, I'd like to look at the positives related to this...or at least why things could be worse. After the jump I've got my thoughts, but I thought I'd lead you past the jump with this classic scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian.
As the day went on I think people started to give the positives a little more consideration, but I thought I'd spell out some of the things I see with this impending retirement (since we have to hear from Marvel Smith).
First off, not a positive, but just a point to be made: Barrows confirmed the 49ers are NOT interested in free agent Levi Jones.
So, first the timing of the decision. When the 49ers and Smith began discussions and he eventually signed, much of the talk centered around his back injury. While it was a concern in my mind, I also was hoping he had moved past it. Obviously that's not the case. However, I'm not going to lay blame on him. A few mentioned it but I'd certainly rather hear this news now than after the last preseason game, or even worse, a week into the season after the 49ers have possibly waived and lost Alex Boone.
Of course, it would have also been nice to know this back in March before the draft and before other players were snatched up in free agency. It's easy to be critical of 49ers management for rolling the dice on a guy with a bad back and they certainly deserve criticism for that. At the same time, I think Smith had high upside if he had been able to remain healthy. Sometimes you roll the dice and crap out. That's just life. If they had been looking at a guy who would be the starting left tackle I think I would have been more upset about all this.
Then there's the fact that Adam Snyder seems to have won the job. Some folks don't think Snyder is any good. I've decided to reserve judgment given that he's never had a legit opportunity to stick at one position, having moved back and forth from tackle to guard throughout his career. I'm open to giving him a little bit of time at the position before saying he's useless. Of course, he's also hurt at this point and out for tonight's game. The upside to that? We get to see more of Barry Sims and Alex Boone. Ok, maybe more Barry Sims is not "upside." However, if Smith makes this retirement official, and barring some late free agent addition or trade, Boone and Sims would seem to both be locks to make the 53-man roster.
I have had Boone teetering on the bubble in all of my 53-man roster projections and now he's certainly moved into safer territory. You never like to see it happen because of injury, but at this point we'll take it any way we can get it. Alex Boone may not be ready to start in the NFL, but he's clearly better than an undrafted free agent. As long as he can keep on the ole straight and narrow, he could have himself a solid NFL career.
These next two games, and tonight in particular, will be very interesting to watch. Either Sims or Boone will get the start at right tackle. The question then is who comes in where behind the RT starter, and then behind Joe Staley at left tackle. The only other backups at this point are Jacob Bender and Joe Toledo. Both seem to get time at both tackle and guard. I don't think either is likely to make the roster, but they've certainly been given a better shot if they can put something together these next two games. Bender also has some time on the 53-man roster after being signed from the Patriots practice squad last season. His last regular season playing time was for the Jets in 2007.
The question is, do you just roll with Boone and Sims these last two playoff games to give them the most amount of time to show something? Or do you try and grab a free agent who would seem to be in an awkward position trying to learn the playbook and impress the coaching staff in a very limited amount of time? The poll is fairly simple but it'd be a waste of time to just throw a bunch of random free agent names on a poll.