San Francisco 49ers: Will the Aging Justin Smith Live Up to His Contract?


Jan 12, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Justin Smith (94) walks off the field after the 49ers intercepted the ball from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (not pictured) during the second quarter of the NFC divisional round playoff game at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Smith, who was recently re-signed by the 49ers last week, will be expected to put up big numbers, like he has in past seasons.

But, is it realistic to expect that from him?

The first thought that comes to mind is “Yeah, of course. He’ll just do what he’s done the last five years,” but then I think about it more deeply and I think “How long has this guy been in the league?”

It’s no secret that Smith is aging, but don’t expect anything less than a Pro Bowl caliber year. Even if he does lose a step, it will be step.

When you think about it some more, you consider Aldon Smith, who most of the attention will be focused on among the rest of the amazing 49ers defense. Therefore it will free up the inside for Justin Smith to have an incredible year.

The fact of the matter is that Justin Smith is still great, and if he continues to have as clean bill of health, he should be in the league until he’s 40.

Do I think he’s worth $6 million? Absolutely NOT.

If anyone does, they should lose all credibility as a sports fan. Seriously. But don’t get me wrong, pay the man what he deserves, but not millions more.

If you’re as business savvy and smart as I am, you would know that his salary should be just enough to keep him hungry and humble, not lazy and cocky. Somewhere in the $3-4 million range would be sensible for an aging player like Smith.

This is exactly what the 49ers front office is thinking about when they hear the name Justin Smith. They know that they’re paying him too much. The on-field character of Justin Smith does not like this, and he is going to do everything in his power to make that not be the case.

What can be expected of Justin Smith is a little bit of a lack-luster campaign in the opening games, but he will pick it up at about the quarter marking the season and it’ll be nonstop from there on.

You can also expect a sack-filled season with a lot of well-desereved recognition.

He’ll be excellent and he will live up to expectations.