— Niners Nation (@NinersNation) June 5, 2015
That was posted by my buddy David Fucillo after the latest retirement, a somewhat surprising departure from the NFL and the 49ers by right tackle Anthony Davis. It’s becoming old hat, this retirement thing. We expected Justin Smith to hang ’em up, and Patrick Willis wasn’t quite the player he once was in his last season, but Chris Borland and Anthony Davis aren’t even in their late-20s yet.
Borland only played one season, and seemed to be kind of a maniac on the field. Davis brought his own brand of crazy, and before last season he was known as a durable mauler, the kind of guy who enjoyed kicking ass on a weekly basis. Now they’re both gone, and with them leaves any sort of certainty pertaining to the remaining guys on the roster. We can’t prove that Davis retired because Borland unlocked the exit door, but it’s clear that, at the very least, retirement is a possibility in many players’ minds throughout the league with all the concern over concussions. Of course it’s been the 49ers who’ve been hit hardest by the reality that today’s players aren’t necessarily brain-bashing gladiators without any sort of regard for their physical and mental well-being. Some are, but a lot are considering their lives after football.
The 49ers (and their fans) have gone through this offseason with “when’s the other shoe going to drop” on their minds ever since Jim Harbaugh was fired. On Saturday, it was the one belonging to veteran punter Andy Lee, who was traded to Cleveland for a conditional seventh-rounder in a salary dump (even though the 49ers have rid themselves of a lot of salary this offseason without lifting a finger). There’s no reason for a healthy and still-productive punter to retire, but there are other guys on the team who could leave at a moment’s notice.
In two seasons he’s suffered three concussions … officially. I remember seeing him get up VERY woozily in his first NFL game (I believe it was after a collision with Jordy Nelson), but he kept playing. I had already planned on writing this post after Davis retired on Friday, and I knew Reid would be at the top of this list, and then today Eric Branch reported this:
Niners safety Eric Reid is readying to play another season, but he acknowledged today he’s given some thought to leaving the NFL because of the three concussions he’s sustained in his first two seasons.
“Everybody evaluates their own situation as far as playing this game,” Reid said to The Chronicle. “I’ve evaluated mine and I’ve decided I still want to play.”
Reid, 23, a 2013 first-round pick, said he might seek out more medical advice, but he intends to play in 2015. He has been a full participant in the team’s offseason program.
“There is a doctor that I’m looking further into and I may end up going to see,” Reid said. “Like I said, right now I’ve evaluated my situation and I feel comfortable playing.”
So Reid is the clear favorite. It’s unfortunate, but considering the way he plays and what he’s dealt with, the chances that he’ll still be in the NFL as a player in a few years seem very slim.
Bowman didn’t suffer a standard ACL tear on that awful play in Seattle. The team is saying all the right things about where he currently stands in his recovery, but what if he’s a step slower? Would Bowman be OK with being an average middle linebacker? When I heard whispers that someone would be leaving the team a couple months back, Bowman was the first player who came to my mind (it ended up being Willis).
Anthony Davis spoke of being in a “white fog” after his concussion last year, and Vernon Davis played like he was stuck in a fog of his own from Week 2 on. Vernon’s problems were mostly back-related, but a hit from Kam Chancellor concussed the 49ers tight end in Dec. 2012, and he suffered another one in 2013 against Carolina when Mike Mitchell drove his head into the Candlestick turf. It would seem that a guy with so many off-the-field interests would want to keep his brain relatively intact, but Vernon seems to have a renewed passion for the game now that Jim Tomsula has replaced Harbaugh, so we’ll see.
The center suffered a concussion in 2012 and hasn’t fully recovered from a nasty leg fracture sustained last season in Denver.
He had a concussion in 2011:
Staley said he’s had previous concussions, but “never like that.”
“It was the second one that knocked me out,” Staley said. “The first play, I was fine. I played normal.”
Staley then sustained another concussion 10 months later, in Oct. 2012 against the Cardinals. He’ll be 31 at the start of this season and he’s already made a decent amount of money in his career. However, he may be one of the old school guys who doesn’t really worry about concussions all that much. It seems like the guys who are retiring due to head trauma concerns are on the younger side.
We can probably assume the next retiree won’t be Alex Boone, since Darnell Dockett already asked Boone that very question.
Added Dockett: “With all the battles me and Boone had, today was our first day speaking. It was kind of awkward. We passed each other like seven times before we spoke. I asked him if he was retiring. He said, ‘No.’ So we’re good.
Then again, it’s Boone, so who knows.