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Bears’ Urlacher Announces His Retirement

Chicago — Brian Urlacher wasn’t sure how dominant he could be any longer, so he’s calling it a career after 13 seasons with the Chicago Bears.

And what a career it was:

■ Eight Pro Bowl seasons;

■ Defensive Player of the Year in 2005;

■ A trip to the Super Bowl as 2006 NFC champion.

And now, it’s over. The eight-time Pro Bowler announced his retirement through social media accounts yesterday.

“After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire,” Urlacher said in a statement. “Although I could continue playing, I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear.

“I want to thank all of the people in my life that have helped me along the way. I will miss my teammates, my coaches and the great Bears fans. I’m proud to say that I gave all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regrets.”

Urlacher was the face of the Bears, and he ranks among the best middle linebackers to suit up for a franchise with an impressive list that includes Hall of Famers Bill George, Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary.

In March, Urlacher and the Bears were unable to reach a contract agreement and he became a free agent.

He started 180 games from 2000-2012, and made a team-record 1,779 tackles. He has 41 1/2 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles.

Last year, he was slowed by a knee problem and then missed the final four games with a hamstring injury.

Urlacher had posted pictures on Twitter indicating he was working his way back into shape before the split with the Bears. But when they announced he would not be back, it was hardly a surprise.

The split with Urlacher was just one of many moves in a busy offseason for the Bears.

They fired coach Lovie Smith after a second straight late collapse left them out of the playoffs for the fifth time in six years, even though they did finish with 10 wins. They replaced him with the offensive-minded Marc Trestman, hoping he could get the most out of quarterback Jay Cutler, and revamped their offensive line.

A safety with lightning speed when he was drafted out of New Mexico, the 6-foot-4 Urlacher initially lined up at strong side linebacker for the Bears, but lost the job to Roosevelt Colvin. He made the switch to middle linebacker during his first season when Barry Minter was injured, and went on to become the 2000 Defensive Rookie of the Year, the start of a long run that saw him anchor a defense that consistently ranked among the league’s best.

49ers Star Injured

Santa Clara, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers suddenly have a huge void in their receiving corps as they chase another Super Bowl berth: Michael Crabtree is sidelined after surgery on his right Achilles tendon.

San Francisco’s leading wide receiver underwent surgery yesterday, though the team is optimistic he will return at some point in 2013. Crabtree was operated on at Stanford by Dr. Tim McAdams one day after suffering the injury during 7-on-7 drills in an organized team activity.

The 25-year-old Crabtree, the team’s 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Texas Tech, had career highs last season with 85 receptions for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns for the NFC champion Niners, who lost 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.