San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith knows that his time in the NFL is slowly running out.
The four-time Pro Bowler is 33 years old, and is coming off of surgery on a triceps tear that caused him to miss some games at the end of last season.
He is also in the final year of a six-year, $45 million contract that he signed back in 2008.
“You really can’t forecast anything out past the year you’re in,” Smith told the media on Wednesday. “So I’m thinking about 2013, and 2013 only.”
And that’s exactly what he should be focused on. Smith is a valuable asset to the 49ers, and has been especially crucial to the growth of fellow defensive lineman Aldon Smith, who had an amazing season but struggled when his counterpart was injured.
Even so, Smith understands that his future with the 49ers after next season is up in the air.
“At this point in my career, nothing’s a given, nothing’s a guarantee,” he said. “They don’t like old guys, anyway, for football. I’m going to enjoy this year and do the best I can this year and hopefully it’s enough for us and the team and we get it done.”
If we know one thing about Justin Smith, it’s that he’s tough and has earned the nickname, “The Cowboy.”
So which one will show up in 2013-2014? “The Cowboy,” or the injured veteran who is slipping away from his glory days?