The 49ers lost another young player Friday when right tackle Anthony Davis announced he was stepping away from the game.
Davis, 25, suffered a concussion Nov. 16 and missed the next four games, telling reporters at the time he felt as if he was in a “white fog” and that he had trouble maintaining conversations. His retirement follows similar announcements by linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland in March and veteran defensive lineman Justin Smith in May.
Willis, 30, stopped playing because of pain in his feet. Borland, 25, worried about brain injury and about the physical toll the game would place on him over a career. Unlike Willis’ and Borland’s decisions, Smith’s wasn’t a surprise. He had been considering retirement since last season ended.
Davis told the team about his decision in a text message, but in a later statement he left open the possibility he would play again.
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“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,” Davis said in a statement provided by his agent Drew Rosenhaus. “This will be a time for me to allow my brain and body a chance to heal. … I’m simply doing what’s best for my body as well as my mental health at this time in my life.”
Davis’ announcement came four days before the team’s mandatory minicamp next week.
“I can’t say it was shocking at all,” coach Jim Tomsula said Friday after the 49ers’ organized team activity session. “Anthony’s been working on himself right now; that’s what he’s been doing. 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.”
General manager Trent Baalke thanked Davis in a statement for his contributions to the 49ers. “The 49ers organization … wishes him the best as he moves on from the game,” Baalke said.
Davis, drafted by the 49ers with the 11th pick in the first round in 2010, started all 71 games in which he appeared, but he missed nine games last season with various injuries.
Davis spoke candidly after suffering the concussion against the New York Giants.
“Just having simple conversations – you just feel slowed down,” Davis said then. “It’s scary. But that’s only like the first three or four days that you feel the intensity of it.”
Davis hasn’t participated in the 49ers’ offseason program, which is voluntary until next week’s minicamp. Rookie Trent Brown, a seventh-round pick, had filled in with the first-team offense.
Another option to replace Davis is Alex Boone, who also has been sitting out the team’s voluntary sessions. Boone has been a starter at guard since 2011, but he also can play tackle. Free-agent acquisition Erik Pears also is a possibility.
“I don’t think it’s a huge blow to this team,” Tomsula said. “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. … The focus is on the guys that are here and the guys that are doing what they are doing.”