Anthony Davis’ retirement from the San Francisco 49ers -– or as we are coming to know it, Borland’s Syndrome –- is just one new knee to the local team’s already well-flattened nethers. Even the Detroit Lions didn’t have this level of abandonment in 2008.
That was the year they came within 16 games of going 16-0.
And rather than examine Davis’ motives for retiring in depth (he had been leaning this way for awhile, according to sources, and a late-season concussion had lingering effects), let’s consider this:
The Oakland Raiders are in the process of leaving en masse, while the 49ers are bugging out one player at a time.
In fact, when we say the Raiders are leaving, the players are only showing up for work where the work is, and the work looks like it is prepping to relocate to Los Angeles. The 49ers are just emptying out drip by drip, and in those circumstances you have to wonder if Jed York or Trent Baalke are sniffing the air and asking passers-by, “Tell me honestly; do I offend?”
And the answer might well be that they do.
This fire drill began with Patrick Willis, who pointed to his heart and feet, and then continued with Davis, Borland and Justin Smith; nearly the entire Jim Harbaugh coaching staff; and relocatees Frank Gore (Colts); Mike Iupati (Cardinals); Michael Crabtree (Raiders); Perrish Cox (Titans); Chris Culliver (Washington); Dan Skuta (Jaguars); and even backup backup quarterback Josh Johnson (Bengals).
This is too many people to just write it off as normal attrition, but it also may simply indicate that the 49ers have made it clear that their first priority is an entirely new team M.O. that doesn’t have to include any of the holdovers.
Or maybe a startling number of players may have had their issues with Harbaugh but found that their annoyances were more than trumped by the fear of the vast unknown. Maybe whatever the 49ers used to be is no longer. Maybe the new front-office-centric structure is making football seem like more of a chore.
[RELATED: 49ers tackle Anthony Davis retires from NFL]
Something’s up, anyway, because coincidence can’t cover all of it. Or, in the immortal words of Tampa’s Gerald McCoy: Gerald McCoy @Geraldini93
“Investigation has to be coming for 49ers!! No way that many people from the same team retire coincidentally. What is going on in San Fran?”
If players are thinking this out loud, is San Francisco no longer a destination? Is the Harbaugh Hangover that real a thing? And if it is, is the future a misery train driven by a front office that seems to have put its own business interests and interpersonal comfort ahead of the football center everyone else cares about?
Beats me. But more troublesome, beats Gerald McCoy, too. And Gerald McCoy knows more players than I do.