Justin Smith may one day have his number retired by the San Francisco 49ers.
As of now, the former All-Pro defensive lineman’s No.94 is still available to be worn, however, and apparently will be next season by No.2 overall pick Solomon Thomas. It’s a big jersey to fill, something 49ers general manager John Lynch understands completely. In fact, before giving Thomas the number, Lynch called Smith to ask for his blessing.
“I talked to him one time I believe,” Smith said on KNBR Tuesday when asked by Kevin Frandsen if he’s spoken with Lynch. “He was calling about the new guy wearing my number, and I was like ‘hey that’s what they’re there for, to be worn.’ No problem with me. That was good for him to reach out and talk to me. I mean (Lynch) played forever. I was around when he was playing and he’s the man. He laid the hammer down. Just a good, respectful guy. He knows how to treat people in football because he played, but he also knows what to expect. I’m sure they’re having as tough a camp as they could have under him.”
Another player known for laying the hammer is Smith’s former teammate Navorro Bowman, who after missing much of 2016 with an Achilles injury, is looking rejuvenated during training camp. Smith gave his two cents on if he thinks “Bo” can still be the force he once was.
“I don’t know, I know those injuries are probably tough,” Smith said. “That knee I’m sure that thing still aches, probably takes him a long time to get it heated up. Achilles, probably not as big a deal. It’s like tearing a tricep or any ligament like that, you patch it back up and you’re usually ready to go. Bo’s a grinder man. He’s tough and he wants to be successful and he has been successful. I know he wants to get back to where his game was, and I’m sure he’s gonna do everything he can to be there.”
Listen to the full interview below. To hear Smith’s comments on Lynch, skip to the 2:20 mark.