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As Justin Smith continues to ponder retirement, he remains a role model for defensive lineman

The beast sometimes known as Godzilla is still getting it done at the highest level.

Today marks anniversary of signing Justin Smith - Niners Nation

NFL free agency kicks in nine days, but today marks a free agency anniversary for the San Francisco 49ers. Seven years ago today, the team signed defensive tackle Justin Smith to a six year, $45 million contract.

Originally drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, this old footage from the NFL draft reminds us he was compared to ESPN analyst Marcellus Wiley, with the same concerns about "short arms" that many are hearing about one of Mizzou's current prospective NFL defensive end, Markus Golden.

Justin Smith remains one of the most dominating defensive lineman in the NFL, and as such, has garnered the attention and respect of athletes seeking their own path to the NFL.

Stanford DL Draft Prospects Admire Justin Smith

Throughout their time at Stanford, defensive linemen Henry Anderson and David Parry studied Justin Smith's game on film and television whenever possible.

"I’ve had comparisons to him, so I would watch him all the time on TV to try to pick up little things here and there," Anderson said last week in Indianapolis at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. "He’s one of those guys who is just a gritty dude.

"He’s always in there disrupting stuff, and it seems like he’s always so stout. He never gets pushed around, and that’s definitely something that I try to pick up on."

Although Smith's career at Mizzou ended before Gary Pinkel and noted defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski began their tenure in Columbia, many affectionately include him in the lineage that has come to be known as "D Line Zou".

Last we heard in January, both Mizzou and 49ers fans were still waiting to hear if the former first round draft pick will decide to return for another year.

For more coverage, the SB Nation blog can keep you up to date.