The San Francisco 49ers may have an answer soon as to the future of defensive tackle Justin Smith. Matt Barrows reported on Monday that Smith said he will probably meet with head coach Jim Tomsula on Wednesday to discuss his future. There were rumors late in the season that Smith was expected to retire, but the 49ers have reportedly given him his distance to figure out what he wants to do next.
Smith saw his play diminish at times late this past season. That was likely primarily due to injuries that have become a frequent issue. He plays through those injuries, but it is no surprise that they in turn slow him down. If he thinks the injuries are going to continue, it would make sense to call it a career. If he does retire, my guess is it is related to that more than anything else.
The 49ers welcomed defensive tackle Darnell Dockett to town for a visit today. While he could help fill in for a retired Justin Smith, I think the 49ers would be speaking with him even if Smith was definitely returning. The departure of Ray McDonald was a big one given the season he was having last year. As we've said ad nauseam, the 49ers have questions amongst the many bodies on the defensive line. Glenn Dorsey brings a veteran presence, but the team could use at least more, particularly if Smith retires.
Of course, I would much prefer Smith get in one more year with the team. He has been working out in the Bay Area, although it sounds like he is a general workout fiend. Hopefully we find out by the end of the week where things stand.