Updated 04:33 AM EST, Wed, Dec 02, 2020

San Francisco 49ers NFL News: LB Patrick Willis to Confirm Retirement; Justin Smith Next?

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The San Francisco 49ers will be bidding goodbye to linebacker Patrick Willis as he is expected to announce his retirement on Tuesday.

A CBS Sports report said the team members are already "bracing themselves" for Willis' retirement, citing a tweet from Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports.

Willis, who played through a toe problem for a couple of years before undergoing surgery in November 2014, missed the final eight games last season because of the surgical operation. His injury was already affecting the way he plays.

"When I hurt (it) in the Rams' game, it kind of made me a little nervous because I knew what I had been feeling all these years. I felt like the Lord was talking to me, I felt like he finally said the time is now ... I feel like I have five or six more great years of football left in my body, but, unfortunately, this toe was telling me otherwise. That was the only thing that was weighing on my mind for a while now," Willis said, as quoted by SF Gate.

ESPN recalled that before the surgery, the player was not considering retirement. He even said, "When I come back, I will be bigger and better than I was," but he might have changed his mind.

The linebacker has never played in other teams aside from the 49ers. ESPN said he was selected to the Pro Bowl during his first seven seasons in the NFL.

Borland to take Willis' place?

SF Gate said that upon Willis' retirement, the 49ers will have to utilize Chris Borland, who is a 2013 third round pick and who led the team in tackles last year. He also missed the two final games of last season because of an ankle injury.

Aside from Willis, whose "retirement would create $7.4 million in salary-cap space," according to SF Gate, 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith is also close to considering retirement, ESPN said.

"I'm going to decide by next week probably. So you'll know by then. It's not 100 percent," he was quoted by ESPN as saying.

The 49ers already signed Smith's potential replacement in Darnell Dockett last week,  NFL.com noted. Smith is set to enter the final season of his three-year contract with the team which he signed in June 2013 and worth $17.1 million. His career has also been marred with numerous injuries especially on his triceps, shoulder and back, the report added.

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