Toxic team, toxic tweets: Anthony Davis puts 49ers on blast

Alex Boone Anthony Davis 49ers

It seems pretty unlikely that Anthony Davis, who still hasn’t filed reinstatement paperwork with the NFL, will ever play right tackle for the San Francisco 49ers.

Let’s look at this from the 49ers’ perspective first.

  • Davis retired in June, after free agency and the NFL Draft. His decision left the team in a bit of a pickle, to put it mildly.
  • Davis’ twitter habits are, how should I put it … on the erratic side.
  • For example, in January he tweeted that he’d make his NFL return in April.
  • The 49ers hold Davis’ rights, so one would assume that he was planning on rejoining the team that drafted him.
  • We have no idea why Davis is angry — maybe this is all because he wants a raise and the 49ers want to see him in camp before they have a single discussion about money and years. Perhaps they said he’d need to compete for a starting job — something that might annoy Davis, but would be well within the team’s rights to do. Or maybe he wants them to give back the $2 million.

I responded to his first two tweets with these thoughts:

Some agreed: a player coming out publicly with these accusations is just another embarrassing incident for a franchise that has seen more than its fair share of bad press over the last few years. But many others chose to ignore my point, instead denigrating Davis for “quitting” back in June and essentially saying his word means nothing. Those fans asked, in so many words: who the hell is Anthony Davis to call out anyone for anything?

Davis isn’t a leader like Joe Staley or NaVorro Bowman by any stretch, but his actions are emblematic of an organization that is deeply flawed. The strong franchises find a way to keep a rift like this from bubbling up to the surface.

Davis is just one player, a player who’ll probably get traded to a team like the Cleveland Browns at some point over the next several months. He’s replaceable, just like every NFL player (and he seems keenly aware of this). And we’ll see how dysfunctional another team is when it comes to what seems to be an inevitable trade. Either Davis is the crazy one, or he knows that the 49ers’ internal craziness is an open secret in NFL circles.

And we kind of knew a tweet barrage like this was coming, right? He definitely wasn’t referring to Trent Brown when he tweeted this (since deleted):

That’s why I could never quite picture a scene where Davis broke the huddle, strutted to the line of scrimmage, and got in a three-point stance opposite a guy like Cliff Avril with that familiar sneer on his face … while wearing red and gold. Davis is unpredictable, and there was obviously some animosity between both sides, no doubt stemming from the timing of his retirement and possibly the team’s stance on how the two sides would make things right financially.

But this is just ONE story. Just ONE page of drama in a book full of leaks, power struggles, protracted disagreements, arrests, and losses that took three years to write.

Let’s take a look at this offseason, which was probably the 49ers’ least controversial since they lost the Super Bowl.

  • Fired: Jim Tomsula
  • Hired: Chip Kelly
  • Spurned: 49ers, by Mike Vrabel. They would end up signing ex-Browns defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil to be their DC.
  • FAs not re-signed: Alex Boone (Vikings), Anquan Boldin (unemployed)
  • FAs re-signed: Phil Dawson (41-year-old kicker), Ian Williams (a five-year deal turned into a cheap one-year pact when it was discovered that he might not be healthy enough to start the season), Shaun Draughn (backup running back), Tony Jerod-Eddie (backup defensive lineman)
  • FAs added: Zane Beadles, Thad Lewis
  • Players extended: Garrett Celek, Quinton Dial, Ray-Ray Armstrong
  • Players who signed tender: Jordan Devey (yippee!)
  • Never ending story: Colin Kaepernick trade rumors

That’s why this Davis thing isn’t really about Davis. It’s not a coincidence that crazy stuff keeps happening to this team, and a lot of football people — players and coaches alike — don’t want any part of them.

Oh, certain fans will think it’s totally normal to have Jay Glazer come out and say the head coach won’t be with the team after the season, even if they win the Super Bowl, before the Week 5 games started. Oh, the team president was demoted during the season, only to see his football responsibilities stay exactly the same after the season ended? Happens all the time. Wait, so the new team president told a sideline reporter enough “information” that the same sideline reporter felt comfortable telling a national TV audience that the team was leaning toward keeping the current, totally overwhelmed head coach (who they’d fire about a month later)? Hey, that’s just football!

It’s impossible to ascertain exactly what Davis thinks, and whether all or any of it is true, without knowing him or being in the team’s facility. However, here’s why I think there’s a shred of truth in his comment about how the front office “seemingly doesn’t want to win” as much as he does.

Instead of finding potential building blocks via free agency or trade this offseason, the 49ers essentially did nothing with their cap space. Instead of figuring out a quick solution to the Kaepernick mess, they’ve let it linger (not the best message to the current players, or potential free agents). And other than probably getting into better shape under Chip Kelly, what do established players have to look forward to? It’s a team full of Trent Baalke draft projects that projects to finish 5-11.

Sure, maybe the only mistake the 49ers made when it comes to today’s tweet barrage was drafting an outspoken offensive lineman 11th overall in 2010. But how much smoke do we need, to understand that all of this drama — Davis’ outburst and retirement, and possibly the retirements of one or two others, and the inability to lure the top assistants, and the other weird stories — stems from the ongoing fire in Santa Clara?

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