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Justin Smith realizes this could be his final run with Niners

33-year-old defensive end returning from injury Brad Biggs

Print This June 13, 2013, 10:56 AM EST

Justin Smith says he is nearly all the way back from the partially torn triceps muscle that ended his consecutive games started streak last season and hampered him in the postseason.

Now, the San Francisco 49ers defensive end is wondering how much of a career he has remaining with his current team.

Smith is entering the final year of his contract with the Niners and will be paid $7.5 million. At 33, he knows Father Time is catching up with him in a young man’s game.

At my point in my career, nothing's a given, nothing's a guarantee," Smith said, according to Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News. "They don't like old guys anyway for football.
 

"So I'm going to enjoy this year, do the best I can this year, and hopefully it's enough for us and the team, and we'll get it done."

But Smith brings intangibles to the table as a leader and the Niners will certainly value that. There is no way Smith will get paid with a huge contract again, but if he remains healthy he can probably contribute for another few seasons. The triceps injury snapped his streak of consecutive starts at 185, so he’s been a model of durability throughout his career.

We’ll see how he performs this season.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune
 

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