If I've learned anything about the San Francisco 49ers and their fans this offseason, it's that anything that begins "Not sure if there's anything to read into it ..." is absolutely something we all enjoy reading into! On Wednesday, a Tweet from Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area noted that defensive lineman Justin Smith has "regularly stopped by" the 49ers' facilities since the end of the season.
This could be seen as significant, given that Smith is reportedly considering whether or not he will return in 2015-16 for his 15th NFL season. Smith is known as a hard-worker, who often spends long chunks of the offseason working at team facilities to keep himself in shape for the upcoming season. That always translates to a guy who never puts less than 100 percent effort on the field, one of the reasons he's been so instrumental to San Francisco's successful defenses in recent years.
But Smith was definitely slowing down last season. His level of play was consistently as high as it always has been, but he did start to slow down later in games, and took more plays off than normal. He's clearly at or near the end of his career, but I think everyone here would rather have him back for another season than let him go. In an offseason where turnover and transition has been the dominating force, getting a leader and veteran like Smith back next season would go a long way.
Smith is able to use the facilities as much as he wants, though San Francisco's full offseason program begins in earnest on April 6. The 49ers are going to let Smith take all the time he needs to make a decision, and I wouldn't be surprised if that decision didn't come down until we get close to the regular season. Smith doesn't need a full offseason program and organized team activities, and he certainly doesn't need the preseason, by and large.