Since a big part of fielding a football team is making sure players are actually on the field, the first question directed to Jim Harbaugh before the team’s first minicamp practice was asked in an effort to find out who was missing.
“We’ve got two players, and a third, Eric Wright, who’s not here as well,” Harbaugh said.
Everyone knows the first two players are Alex Boone and Vernon Davis, who are holding out in hopes of leveraging the 49ers into offering them bigger, better contracts. But hearing Wright’s name was a surprise.
“I believe he’s making a decision to not play football,” said Harbaugh, who was then asked if Wright was considering retirement. “That’s my understanding. I don’t have any official information on that. But those are the three guys that aren’t here.”
49ers say CB Eric Wright is pondering retirement. Well ponder no more. Source says he will file paperwork today to officially retire.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) June 17, 2014
Did Wright retire because the 49ers were looking to bring in Brandon Flowers, who was recently released by the Chiefs?
“Again, there’s longstanding policy, don’t talk about anybody who’s not one of our players,” said Harbaugh.
Bringing Wright back for another season seemed like a curious move, since Perrish Cox (who was released by both the 49ers and Seahawks earlier in the season) passed him on the depth chart heading into the playoffs. The 49ers gave him multiple chances to seize a role, and his locker mate, Eric Reid, didn’t expect him to vacate the premises in this fashion.
“It’s a little surprising. Maybe he’s dealing with some personal issues, so I’m going to leave that up to him. I’m not going to invade his space. If he comes back, I’ll ask him how he’s doing. But that’s a personal decision and I wish him the best either way,” said Reid.
The last public comment from Wright? Well, the wording is interesting …
The mountain is as high as the man that climbs it… — Eric Wright (@EWrighteous21) June 17, 2014
As for the Davis and Boone holdouts, Harbaugh had a couple catchphrases ready for today’s first pre-minicamp practice interview.
1. “Where the focus is going to be.” (on the players who are here)
2. “Beat around the bush.” (what Harbaugh is definitely not doing)
“I think I’m disappointed in their decision not to be here,” Harbaugh said about the absences of Boone and Davis.
“There’s a voluntary segment to the offseason, and we appreciate those guys volunteering to make the team better. Now it’s mandatory. Not the decision I envisioned being the 49er way. Really nothing more to be said about it than the focus will be on what’s going on here. Others will try to make the focus on that story, but our story is the football side of it.”
Could the players who are here step into the roles vacated by Boone and Davis?
“We’re going to focus on the guys that are here. We’re going to practice. We’re going to do a great job of making this team better. I’m not going to speculate on that. I know where you’re trying to go, you’re trying to tie them as part of the story. I’m not beating around the bush. I’m concise, you know how I feel about it. That’s all there is to it.”
Has he spoken to either player?
“Again, I think I’ve been clear. Didn’t beat around the bush, told you how I feel. That’s where the focus is going to be, coaching the guys that are here.”