San Francisco's offense was thrown for a loss Thursday, when a source close to 49ers guard Larry Allen said the 11-time Pro-Bowl and future Hall-of-Fame selection is expected to retire.
One of the strongest lineman to ever play the game, the 6-foot-3, 325-pound Allen no longer has the appetite to maul opponents the way he did for 14 NFL seasons.
Until now, it was uncertain whether Allen wanted to return or whether the 49ers wanted him back. Allen is making the decision before anyone can make it for him.
Allen had to be persuaded to play this season and it will be, in the opinion of those who know him, next to impossible convince to do the same next season.
But with San Francisco's performance dropping off this past season to the surprise and disappointment of many, Allen is unwilling to return to a team that is not viewed as being on the verge of winning a championship. At 36, Allen is financially secure and ready to move on to life without football.
Before he retires, Allen could decide to go through a ceremonial signing with Dallas so he could retire as a Cowboy. He and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones are particularly close; Dallas was the team that drafted Allen out of Sonoma State University in the second round of the 1994 draft with the 46th overall pick.
Allen could even wind up asking Jones to be his presenter when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which could happen as early as 2013.
The Class of 2013 will be quite a potential class. It now could include Allen's former 49ers teammate, defensive linemen Bryant Young, another outstanding defensive in tackle Warren Sapp, and Allen.
For years, Allen was a lead blocker for the NFL's all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith. In Dallas, Allen played right guard, left guard and left tackle during his career –- and dominated for much of his 12 seasons there. Dallas released Allen in March 2006, only to see him sign with the 49ers.