Alex Mack's playing days are officially over.
"I have decided to hang up my cleats," Mack wrote in a heartfelt statement posted on social media on Friday. "I am so grateful to the game of football and everything it has given me. From the very start it helped shape who I am and taught me life lessons. I started to play football because it was fun and that never changed."
After much debate about the 49ers center’s future from everyone except Mack himself, the All-Decade player from the 2010s has retired from the NFL. The announcement comes one day after reports that the offensive lineman reworked his contract to clear cap space for club.
Both 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan kept the door open for the 13-year veteran, consistently stating that any official announcement would be coming from Mack himself.
“We would like to thank Alex for all that he brought to the 49ers throughout the 2021 season,” Lynch and Shanahan said in a statement. “The center position in the NFL is the heartbeat of an offense, and Alex’s intellect, consistency, love for the game and professional approach made a lasting impression over the course of his 13 NFL seasons. Congratulations to Alex on a highly decorated NFL career and we wish him nothing but success in his post-playing career.”
Mack spent the first 12 years of his career with the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons before signing a three-year deal with the 49ers last offseason. He started all 17 regular-season games and all three playoff contests in 2021, not missing a single snap all year.
"Thank you to the fans," Mack wrote. "You have been with me on an incredible journey across the country. Thank you to Cleveland, Atlanta, and San Francisco; I loved living in those cities and will miss their dedicated fan bases."
Mack's departure leaves San Francisco with a significant gap at center, where it will likely look to its current roster of offensive linemen to take over. Daniel Brunskill has experience at the position while Jake Brendel and Keaton Sutherland have both been seen during organized team activities snapping the ball to the quarterbacks.
"This really is more ‘thank you’ than ‘goodbye,' " Mack wrote. "From draft night to the final whistle, I will carry these special memories, and each of these treasured relationships, with me into my next chapter."