SANTA CLARA, Calif. — After an offseason of want it or not, San Francisco 49ers center Alex Mack has made a decision about his future in football.
He won’t. After 13 seasons in the NFL, Mack announced his retirement via Twitter and in conjunction with the 49ers on Friday morning, ending a career that included seven Pro Bowl selections, three second-team All-Pro nods and a berth. at Pro Football Hall. of Fame’s All-Decade Team for the 2010s.
“After 13 seasons and 204 games for 3 teams, I decided to hang up my cleats”, Mack wrote on Twitter. “I’m so grateful for football and everything it has given me. From the start it helped shape who I am and taught me life lessons. I started playing football. football because it was fun and it never changed…
“I always tried to hold my end of the bargain and never let anyone doubt my efforts.”
Mack, 36, earned his final Pro Bowl appearance last season, his only year spent in San Francisco. He signed with the 49ers as a free agent in March 2021 in a move that not only reunited him for the third time with coach Kyle Shanahan – the pair also worked together in Atlanta and Cleveland – but were in sort of a full-circle moment for Mack, who played at the University of California, Berkeley.
At the time, Mack signed a three-year deal, but made it clear he was playing on a yearly basis and would assess whether to continue at the end of each offseason. Mack stuck to that this offseason, leaving many wondering what he was going to do all offseason.
During NFL owners’ meetings in late March, Niners general manager John Lynch expressed optimism about Mack’s return, saying “everything indicates that he will come back and be part of us.”
Lynch’s tone changed dramatically just before the draft about a month later when he said he would let Mack make his own announcement when he was ready.
On Thursday, Mack and the Niners agreed to a reworked contract that increased his base salary for 2022 from $5 million to $1.12 million and from $3.35 million to $1.165 million in 2023. This decision saved the 49ers more than $4 million in cap space this season, money they quickly used to sign their draft class of nine players.
On Friday, Mack made his retirement official, and the 49ers released a statement thanking Mack for his contributions.
“Center position in the NFL is the heartbeat of an offense and Alex’s intellect, consistency, love of the game and professional approach have made a lasting impression during his 13 seasons in the NFL,” Lynch and Shanahan said in a statement. “Congratulations to Alex on a highly decorated career in the NFL and we wish him only success in his post-player career.”
Mack was originally the 21st overall pick by Cleveland in the 2009 NFL Draft. He earned three Pro Bowl nominations and was a second-team All-Pro once in seven seasons with the Browns before moving on. earning three Pro Bowl berths and two second-team All-Pro berths in five years with the Falcons.
The 49ers now find themselves looking for a replacement in a position that Shanahan greatly values in his offense.
Veteran inside options include Jake Brendel, who worked with the starters during the offseason program, and Daniel Brunskill, who started at right guard last season but played center in 2020.
San Francisco also has a trio of rookies — Nick Zakelj, Dohnovan West and Jason Poe — who could be considered in the mix, although Shanahan has always been reluctant to play someone inexperienced at center.
Outside the building, veteran JC Tretter is the best center in the free agent market, although he does question a knee issue that kept him out of practice for much of last season.