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J.J. Watt on retirement: 'I know I still can (play), I'm just choosing not to'

J.J. Watt's two-sack performance Sunday won't sway the future Hall of Famer from changing his mind about retirement.

"I know I still can (play)," Watt said, per the team's official website. "I'm just choosing not to."

Watt indeed showed he can still play, sacking 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy twice in Arizona's loss to San Francisco on Sunday and adding five tackles (three for loss) and a pass defensed. In the final game of his 12-year career, Watt was constantly in the backfield, generating five QB pressures; no other Cardinal had more than one.

When healthy, Watt, 33, showed he still has juice left, generating 12.5 sacks in 2022. Since Week 6, Watt has had 43 QB pressures, tied for most among defensive tackles with Javon Hargrave and DeForest Buckner.

Sunday, Watt was afforded a walk-off moment, being subbed out at the two-minute warning as officials held up play for the star defender to receive a standing ovation from the fans in Santa Clara.

"He was a problem throughout the game for us in the run game and the pass game," Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said of Watt. "But for it to slow down there at the end and for him to have his moment where he could walk off, I think everyone in this country respects the hell out of him for what he's done on and off the field. He's an all-time great."

Watt could still play if he wanted, and plenty of teams would benefit from his leadership and ability. But after battling injuries that untracked his career following three Defensive Player of the Year awards, Watt will walk away with gas still left in the tank. It's how a great player should go out: on his own terms.

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