Linebacker Chris Borland was so beat up physically after his rookie season at least one person close to him thought he would seriously consider retirement due to his overall physical health, a source told CSNBayArea.com on Tuesday.
Some teams removed Borland from their draft boards due to concerns of a shortened NFL career because of chronic problems with both shoulders, according to multiple NFL sources.
During his four-year career at Wisconsin, Borland underwent two surgeries on his left shoulder and one on his right shoulder.
General manager Trent Baalke told CSNBayArea.com last season that he made an exception from his usual height-weight-speed standards to select Borland, who is listed at 5 foot 11, 248 pounds. Baalke said he spoke at length with his mentor, Bill Parcells, about Borland around draft time.
“Is this a guy you’re willing to make an exception on? And if so, why?” Baalke said in November. “And the reason you make exceptions is because they’re productive players at their position. They’ve proven they can overcome the limitations or liabilities that they have physically.”
Borland was limited in some 49ers practices last season due to an unspecified shoulder condition. He missed the final two games of the season and was placed on injured reserve with a high-ankle sprain sustained in a late-season game against the Seattle Seahawks.
But Borland was beaten up as a result of his team-leading 128 tackles, most of it coming in eight starts after Patrick Willis opted for season-ending toe surgery.
The 49ers on Monday announced Borland, 24, is retiring from the NFL after one season. Borland was named to the Pro Football Writers’ All-Rookie team. Borland told ESPN's “Outside the Lines” he was walking away from the sport due to the long-term effects of repetitive head injuries.
Borland said he began to have second thoughts about a football career in training camp after sustaining what he believed was a concussion. He did not alert the 49ers' medical staff because of his desire to make the team, he said.
"I just thought to myself, 'What am I doing? Is this how I'm going to live my adult life, banging my head, especially with what I've learned and knew about the dangers?'” Borland said.
Borland said he does not have a lengthy history of diagnosed concussions. He said he sustained one concussion while playing soccer in eighth grade, and another in his sophomore year of college playing football.