SANTA CLARA –- Right tackle Anthony Davis missed most of last season due to shoulder, hamstring and ankle injuries. Then, he spent four weeks on the sideline late in the season due to a concussion.
On Friday, Davis, 25, announced in a statement he would take step away from the NFL for a year or two. Although coach Jim Tomsula might not have spoken with Davis specifically about his plan, he said the news did not catch him by surprise.
“I can’t say it was shocking at all,” Tomsula said after 49ers practice.
[RELATED: 49ers tackle Anthony Davis retires from NFL]
The 49ers will place Davis on the reserve/retired list and hold onto his rights. It remains to be seen if Davis will attempt a comeback in the future.
“The 49ers organization thanks Anthony for his contributions to our team over the last five seasons and wishes him the best as he moves on from the game,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said.
Davis and Tomsula exchanged text messages on Friday morning. In the early afternoon, Davis issued a statement explaining his decision:
“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. 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.
Davis started only seven games last season and left another game with an ankle injury. He sustained a concussion late in a game against the New York Giants on Nov. 16.
Three weeks later, Davis spoke about dealing with the concussion symptoms.
“You look out and it’s a white fog,” Davis said. “Or just having simple conversation, you feel slowed down. . . . It’s scary when your brain is not working how it’s supposed to, and the culture of this league is big, tough guy.”
The 49ers traded up two spots in the 2010 draft to select Davis with the No. 11 overall pick. Davis was signed to a seven-year, $37.3 million contract extension in April 2013. He was scheduled to earn $3.35 million this season in salary and bonuses. He could be on the hook to re-pay more than $4.5 million in prorated signing bonus.
Tomsula said the 49ers prepared for Davis’ departure by attempting to build depth at the tackle positions -- even while they might not have spoken specifically about the possibility.
“I wouldn’t say it was a topic of conversation, but yeah, absolutely,” Tomsula answered when asked if the 49ers approached free agency and the draft as if Davis’ retirement was a possibility.
“Anthony wasn’t around. He was doing his thing. If you look at the things we’ve done here, personnel-wise, we’re very prepared for this.
“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.”
The 49ers signed veteran offensive lineman Erik Pears to a two-year contract. The team selected Trent Brown of Florida in the seventh round of the draft. Brown has been working with the first-team offense at right tackle in Davis’ absence.
The 49ers could also move right guard Alex Boone to tackle. Boone, like Davis, has not been taking part in the offseason program. Boone is expected to take part in next week’s mandatory minicamp.
Davis started every game in his first four NFL seasons and won the team’s Bobb McKittrick Award in 2012. The award goes to the 49ers’ offensive lineman who best represents the courage, intensity and sacrifice displayed by the legendary offensive line coach.
“He’s 25 years old and he feels, himself, that he needs to take a break to get his mind and his body back, as he termed it,” Tomsula said. “And I support him. I do. I support him on that.”
Davis becomes the fourth player to retire from the 49ers this offseason, joining Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Justin Smith.
“The thing, we group all of these guys together, but it’s all individual in my opinion,” Tomsula said. “I’ll speak on Justin because he was in the D-line room for those years. It’s time. The guy was able to have a great career and walk away on his own terms.
“Everybody has their reasons and situations come up. I’m not going to group all the guys together. What I am really excited about is the team that’s on the field right now. The guys that are here.”