I’d write that this is getting ridiculous, but there’s a clear pattern here. Anthony Davis is the latest member (err … former member) of the San Francisco 49ers to retire, citing injuries. Like Chris Borland, Davis is leaving the game in response to concussions. Unlike Borland, Davis left open the possibility that he might return, and the 49ers own his rights if he does.
Via Adam Schefter:
After a few years of thought, I’ve decided it will be best for me to take a year or so away from the NFL. This will be a time for me to allow my Brain and Body a chance to heal. I know many won’t understand my decision, that’s ok.
I hope you too have the courage to live your life how you planned it when day dreaming to yourself growing up. Your Life is Your dream and you have the power to control that dream. Im simply doing what’s best for my body as well as my mental health at this time in my life.
He also has to pay back the unearned portion of his signing bonus: over $6.5 million! That makes this a completely different situation from Borland’s in financial terms. And it also makes one wonder what exactly would lead Davis to return. After paying back all that money, what would make him want to come back to football and risk further head trauma?
Davis was an outstanding run-blocker at times, especially during the 2012 season when he and Alex Boone formed one of the better right sides of any offensive line in the NFL. Here’s how Boone described Davis when I asked who’s the nastiest player on the offensive line during the week before Super Bowl 47.
“He’s just the nastiest person I know. I love it. I love playing next to that man,” Boone said.
The 49ers’ line crumbled when Davis missed time due to multiple injuries last season, including a concussion that kept him out of four games. The 49ers turned to Jonathan Martin in Davis’ absence. Martin was below average at best, and the 49ers released him after the season. Martin is now with the Panthers.
Now the 49ers will likely turn to Alex Boone or Eric Pears to man the right tackle spot, and rookie seventh-rounder Trent Brown has been manning the first-team right tackle spot so far during offseason workouts. Whatever the 49ers decide, the offensive line is a massive question mark heading into next season, other than Joe Staley at left tackle.
- Left guard: Mike Iupati signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
- Center: Daniel Kilgore suffered a nasty leg fracture last year after playing pretty well at center, and Marcus Martin struggled in his rookie year.
- Right guard: Boone doesn’t seem all that interested in attending voluntary workouts, and the 49ers need him to be their second-best offensive lineman next year.
- Right tackle: ???
The 49ers need Brandon Thomas to come back strong after “redshirting” his first year, and Marcus Martin must get up to speed quickly. They also need Boone to show a renewed commitment to the team, and for Pears to play better than he did with the Bills (Pro Football Focus rated him 76th out of 78 eligible guards in 2014).
The 49ers’ starting quarterback is trying to remake his throwing motion and bounce back from a down season. San Francisco also has expressed a desire to become a run-first team with an unproven Carlos Hyde as the starter, backed up by Kendall Hunter (coming off two major injuries in the last three years), Reggie Bush (rushed for 297 yards on 3.9 yards per carry last year in 11 games) and rookie Mike Davis.
It’s getting to the point where I’m almost starting to feel badly for Jim Tomsula, who couldn’t have imagined that he’d be dealing with the kind of mass exodus we’ve seen over the last few months. Tomsula told reporters that he wasn’t all that surprised by Davis’ decision. He surely had some inside information that led him to believe Davis might never come back, plus retirements like these have been par for the course lately.