Programming note: For comprehensive 49ers coverage from the NFL combine in Indianapolis, watch SportsNet Central tonight at 6, 10:30 & midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
INDIANAPOLIS – For the past few years, Jim Tomsula sat down with Justin Smith to hear whether the veteran defensive lineman planned to play another season.
For the first time, Tomsula will be the head coach – not the defensive line coach -- when he listens to what Smith has decided.
“Out of respect to Justin, I’ve told him, I will not try to talk him into anything,” Tomsula said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “And I will not try to talk him out of anything. He has earned the right to make his decision on his terms. We said that for the last three or four years.
“As a football coach, do you want Justin Smith on your team? Well, hell yes. Yes. But I’m not going to go there. I’m not going to do that. I respect that guy, man. Fifteen years, playing the way he plays at that position, and the way he does it. I’m going to let him.”
Smith, 35, just completed his 14th NFL season. He apparently remains undecided with to come back for a 15th season, which also represents the final year of the contract extension he signed in June of 2013.
Tomsula said he sees Smith working out regularly at the 49ers’ practice facility in Santa Clara, but the subject of his future has not been broached.
“Justin has come around to bust my chops,” Tomsula said. “That’s the way he does things.
“I usually get with Justin after the combine. When we get back, that’s usually when he and I shoot the baloney.”
Matt Maiocco will appear on Yahoo SportsTalk Live tonight at 5, 7 & 11 p.m. to discuss Jim Tomsula’s comments to the media at the NFL combine.