SANTA CLARA – The 49ers have prepared for the end of Justin Smith’s career for a couple years, according to coach Jim Tomsula.
And, now, it seems his teammates are bracing for Smith to retire, too.
Smith’s locker still stands at Levi’s Stadium. But for the first time in his 49ers career, he is not taking part in the team’s voluntary activities. Smith was not on the field Wednesday when the media was allowed to watch warmup drills on Day 2 of the 49ers' voluntary three-day minicamp. Smith has no workout bonuses attached to his scheduled $4.25 million pay for this season.
Outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who lined up alongside Justin Smith for most of his four NFL seasons, intimated he does not expect his veteran teammate to return for a 15th season when he was asked about taking on more of a leadership role.
"Obviously, losing guys who were here -- Justin, Pat (Willis), guys like that who were leaders -- somebody steps up, and it's something I have no problem doing,” Aldon Smith said.
During his session with reporters, Aldon Smith denied having any inside information on Justin Smith’s plan: “I don’t know. I have as a good a guess as you do.”
League sources have told CSNBayArea.com that Justin Smith has come to grips with the possible end of his career, but the 49ers want him to take his time and will even keep the door open for a midseason return.