Former San Francisco 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis had been an intimidating figure on the team’s offensive line since being selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. In his five seasons with San Francisco, Davis started 71 of a possible 80 games.
So it was a pretty big shock that the 25-year-old tackle announced on Friday that he was retiring from the game of football after just five seasons:
“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,” Davis said in a prepared statement. “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. I’m simply doing what’s best for my body as well as my mental health at this time in my life.”
It was the latest blow for a team that had already lost Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Justin Smith to retirement since March.
However, it doesn’t seem like the brass in San Francisco was surprised by Davis’ seemingly shocking retirement:
“I can’t say it was shocking at all,” head coach Jim Tomsula told reporters Friday afternoon, via Pro Football Talk. “Anthony’s been working on himself right now, that’s what he’s been doing,” Tomsula said. “Look, Anthony wants to step away and he wants to get his mind and his body right and that’s where he wants to go and he has every right to do that. We wish him the best.”
Tomsula also didn’t seem too worried about Davis’ decision:
“I don’t think it’s a huge blow to this team…I wouldn’t categorize it that way. We’ve got some guys doing some really good things right now that we’re really excited about moving into training camp.”
It sure sounds like the 49ers were preparing for this eventuality following a 2014 season that saw Davis suffer a knee injury and a concussion. In fact, the former first-round pick displayed some worry about the long-term impact of the game of football on his life prior to announcing he’s stepping away from the NFL.
In terms of how this is going to impact San Francisco on the field, it’s pretty much a depth issue. Alex Boone will likely move outside to right tackle, while a young player will start in his stead at guard. Luckily for the 49ers, they have the talent to overcome this latest loss. However, it’s probably going to impact the team’s overall depth on the offensive line.
The larger question here is what’s actually going on in San Francisco. That’s now two young players that have called it quits in the matter of three months—two players the 49ers were relying on to make an impact moving forward. In addition to Boone and Borland, linebacker Patrick Willis and defensive tackle Justin Smith also called it quits.
All this came on the heels of Jim Harbaugh departing the organization after a drama-filled 2014 campaign. That doesn’t even factor in the losses of Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati, Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver in free agency. If you take into account the release of Ray McDonald, that’s now 10 starters from last year’s opening day roster that are no longer with the team.
While general manager Trent Baalke has done a great job building depth, and there are starter-quality replacements for nearly all these players, it’s going to be a difficult task for this first-year coaching staff to overcome such a massive roster turnover to compete in the NFC West.
Photo: USA Today Sports