SANTA CLARA, Calif. — After an offseason that was a matter of whether or not he was, San Francisco 49ers center Alex Mack has made a decision about his football future.
He won’t. After 13 NFL seasons, Mack announced his retirement Friday morning via Twitter and in partnership with the 49ers, ending a career that included seven Pro Bowl selections, three second-team All-Pro pitches and a berth in pro football Hall comprised Fame’s All-Decade team for the 2010s.
“After 13 seasons and 204 games for 3 teams, I’ve decided to hang up my boots,” said Mack wrote on Twitter. “I’m so grateful to the game of football and all that it has given me. From the start it helped shape me and taught me life lessons. I started playing football because it was fun and that never changed…
“I’ve always tried to keep my end of the bargain and never let anyone doubt my efforts.”
Mack, 36, earned his last Pro Bowl appearance last season, his only year in San Francisco. He signed as a free agent with the 49ers in March 2021, which not only reunited him with coach Kyle Shanahan for a third time — the pair also worked together in Atlanta and Cleveland — but it was something of a circle moment for Mack that took on at the University of California in nearby Berkeley.
At the time, Mack signed a three-year deal but made it clear that he would play from year to year and consider continuing at the end of each offseason. Mack remained committed this offseason, leaving many wondering what he would be doing all offseason.
At the NFL owners’ meetings in late March, John Lynch, general manager of the Niners, expressed optimism that Mack would return, saying that “all the signs are that he’s coming back and he’s a 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 revised contract that would increase his 2022 base salary from $5 million to $1.12 million and from $3.35 million to $1.165 million in 2023 lowered. Money they quickly signed their nine-player draft class with.
On Friday, Mack made his retirement official, and the 49ers released a statement thanking Mack for his contributions.
“The center position in the NFL is the heartbeat of an offensive line, and Alex’s intellect, consistency, love of the game and professional approach have made a lasting impression over his 13 NFL seasons,” Lynch and Shanahan said in a statement. “Congratulations to Alex on his highly decorated NFL career and we wish him nothing but success in his career after playing.”
Mack was originally Cleveland’s 21st overall pick 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 going three pros in five years with the Falcons -Bowl beds and two second-team All-Pros landed.
The 49ers are now looking for a replacement in a position Shanahan values on his offense.
In-house veteran options include Jake Brendel, who worked with the starters during the offseason program, and Daniel Brunskill, who started at right-back last season but played at center in 2020.
San Francisco also has a trio of rookies – Nick Zakelj, Dohnovan West and Jason Poe – who could add to the mix, although Shanahan has traditionally been reluctant to play someone inexperienced.
Outside the building, veteran JC Tretter is the best center on the free agent market, although he has questions about a knee problem that prevented him from training for much of last season.