Saturday, June 6, 2015

NFL 2015: What's Going On With The 49ers?


When San Francisco's linebacker Chris Borland announced his retirement after only a single NFL season, it seemed well reasoned, but odd at the same time. What no one saw at the time is how it cracked open a floodgate...

Patrick Willis, the perennial All-Pro middle linebacker - followed Borland into AARP-land. Losses in free agency added to woes being felt by first year head coach Jim Tomsula. Justin Smith called it a career after 14 NFL seasons. Frank Gore hit the road to Indianapolis, and Michael Crabtree headed across the Bay to Oakland, while guard Mike Iupati wandered off to Arizona. Now, starting right tackle Anthony Davis announced his retirement, though he left the door open for a return...
If you want to look at all this honestly, drawing the line back to last season - when rumbling of player/front office dissatisfaction began to bubble up around then-head coach Jim Harbaugh - makes some sense? From a distance, I can almost see the 49ers players were split into two camps: Pro-Harbaugh, and Con-Harbaugh... Then again, is it reasonable to look even further to a dysfunction in the front office and ownership?

One thing seems to have an underlying truth to it though: Players are leaving in droves regardless of money concerns. In an age where players seem overly craven where $$$dollars are concerned, the 49ers have people simply walking away...

Health concerns - when it comes to playing the game of football - are very real, and I respect anyone who makes the tough choice to stop playing a game that's been something they've loved. Willis' decision to retire is understandable. He's been struggling with foot issues for a number of years, and pain takes a toll on anyone. Davis' sudden decision is tougher to understand, especially when you consider his hint at a return in the future. Players who are injured get put on Injured Reserve; they don't have to retire to heal. It makes me wonder if Davis' is really injured, or simply trying to gain his release from the 49ers? He did suffer a substantial concussion last season that caused him to miss four games. Is this a response by Davis to resist efforts by the 49ers to force him to play when he thinks he needs more healing time? Could be, but it's just speculation...

Yet, what's going on with the 49ers right now has stepped beyond an aberration. No other NFL team is going through anything close to this. Add in how young the 49ers players who are retiring, and it has to make you wonder what's going on in San Francisco? Not to stir the pot even further, but is anyone else thinking some of this represents a broad showing of a "lack of confidence" in Tomsula/Baalke/owner Ted York?

One of the most storied NFL franchises is in deep trouble. The San Francisco 49ers are still a formidable team, but how much more disarray can they handle?