Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis Another Example of 49ers Poor Management

Jesse Dumas
Jun 5, 2015 at 6:18 PM

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There's a stench in Santa Clara, and it's got players leaving in droves.

It would be unfair to pin this trend of rapidly-retiring players on Jim Tomsula, who's got to be just as dismayed as any of the 49ers suddenly-tortured fans by this exodus of talent. It would also be an oversimplification to say that if Jim Harbaugh had been retained after last season that none of this would have happened.

The fact of the matter is that players are thinking more and more about their own well-being and how that's compromised by playing the collision-intensive sport of football. Early retirements will likely be more prevalent in the league as the data pours in regarding the damage done to players and how they suffer later in life. Players young and old know now the risk they take every time the buckle their chinstraps and take the field, so commitment to the game is more necessary than ever to play at an elite level.

That being said, the sudden retirements of Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, and now Anthony Davis speak to the level of apathy in Santa Clara and that's a derivative of how team management has handled team affairs for the last 18 months or so.

Management sent a clear message by undermining their coach after 3 seasons of consistent success, essentially putting out an ultimatum of "win the Super Bowl or we're firing you" to Harbaugh in year number 4. That message was that winning wasn't the primary objective, at least not the sole primary objective. You can win, but you better damn well tow the company line too, or you're out.

We've been living in this nightmare for quite some time, but other fans around the country still can't figure out how the 49ers bungled the Harbaugh situation and now appear to be in some kind of free-fall without him. Of course we know the story is more nuanced than that, but in some ways it's not.

If the players that have decided to retire thought this was a team on the brink of greatness and their contributions were crucial to that effort, then it seems unlikely that all these dominoes would have fallen as they did. The 49ers probably aren't as bad off as everybody is making them out to be, but for any player to face the thought of starting over with a new head coach and all the work ahead of them just to get back to where they were less than 2 seasons ago, they have to decide if it's worth it to them when the likelihood of getting the ultimate payoff in a championship seems pretty remote.

So, we have guys choosing to walk away rather than suit it up one more time for this team. It's a product of the modern game, the challenge of changing coaches, and the 49ers poor handling of all their recent success.

Jed York asked to be held accountable, do you think we'll get any explanations of what's going on with his team? Fat chance. The 49ers will just carry on like nothing's wrong and everything is going according to plan. Just ignore the smell.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • don
    I don't think you can pin all the player early retirements on the termination of Jim Harbaugh. No player is going to part with millions in salaries unless it has to do with their health or well being. That said, management needs to be monitoring their player's concerns working with them, supporting them and establishing personnel strategies based on players who might be leaving..
    Jun 10, 2015 at 12:18 PM
  • Sean
    Forget the last comment, sometimes reading comprehension fails me.
    Jun 9, 2015 at 2:22 PM
    Response: Water under the bridge. I wouldn't do this if I was thin skinned and I DAMN SURE wouldn't use my real name.
  • Sean
    You started your response by telling me I'm wrong and spent the rest of the response basically agreeing with me. I'm quickly losing faith in your failed logic.
    Jun 9, 2015 at 2:21 PM
    Response: "You're not wrong Sean." I'm beginning to lose faith in your failed reading abilities.
  • Sean
    This article, along with the majority of the opinion pieces seem a little preemptive at this point. Don't you think we should give them 5-6 games to start making such harsh judgements? For all we know at this point, Harbaugh leaving could be for the best. Don't get me wrong, I loved having him coach the 49ers just as much as everyone else but, he is still the only coach in 49ers history to ever lose a Superbowl.
    Jun 9, 2015 at 1:13 PM
    Response: You're not wrong Sean. We won't know if this dog will hunt until the season finally kicks off. However, nobody would really argue that the 49ers are "losing the offseason" in the court of public opinion. John Clayton wrote a piece a few days ago that calculated the net gain/loss for the team in terms of talent and productivity. The 49ers are clearly losing quite a bit and rolling the dice on a lot of unproven players. If everything pans out, then this could be a sleeper-type season for them and they'll play above expectations. More than anything, this is the first year in the last 3 where expectations haven't been Super Bowl or bust. That could be a huge relief on the whole organization, but then again they could suck just as bad as everyone says they're going to.
  • Kevin
    He has lost the passion for the game . Don't blame it on management. People forget that coming out of college he's coach even said he wasn't going to last in nfl . He wasn't wrong ! Go niners!!!!!!!!
    Jun 8, 2015 at 5:22 PM
  • Paul
    Do you really want players that have lost their passion for the game? I wish they all stayed, but it is time to move forward. The show must go on.
    Jun 8, 2015 at 3:23 PM
  • paul jones
    what else are they supposed to do? you can't just throw up your hands and cry about it, you have to move on and try to win with the guys who want to be on the field. to say that davis or any of the other departed players wouldn't have left if they thought the niners had a better shot at a super bowl is Ludacris. none of those players have indicated in any way that their decisions were based on the team's prospect for success this year
    Jun 8, 2015 at 11:31 AM
    Response: "Ludacris" soooooooo perfect. Folks, if you read no other comment in this string, read this one.
  • Tim
    I would like to see an opinion piece written about Boone. Boone before Harbaugh was fired.... "Thats my coach, anyone talking about my coach better get ready for me, cause I am coming for you." Boone after Harbaugh fired.... "you know, now that you mention it, he was a total pain in the ass". HAHAHAHAHAH! Seriously, talking about the nutcases we have on the team still is a lot more fun than talking about the ones we don't have.
    Jun 8, 2015 at 9:08 AM
    Response: Not a bad idea.
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    Great article. If these morons could read they would understand that you didn't say that management was totally responsible, but that there were several factors that have contributed to where the Niners are now. You can be as emotional as you want and criticize fans for being negative all you want, but the facts are these. 1. Balkke is an average GM at best. 2. Niners management has made some very poor decisions and 3. Given the experience and track record of the coaching staff the probability of success for this team is very low.
    Jun 8, 2015 at 7:14 AM
    Response: I messed up on the headline. Too harsh for the actual point of the article. Internet comment-writers have no need to read content, just react to headlines.
  • Big Al Soprano
    Where do they get these braindead college rejects to write these dumb articles? The only smell on this page is the putrid writer. What a joke. Harbaugh was a QB guru? Ha. His offense declined each season until last year's fiasco in which he praised Roman's game planning and play calling. Good riddance to the dunderhead.
    Jun 8, 2015 at 5:17 AM
    Response: Spoken like a man unable to go to college nor actually read the article. No worries though, Al. In the word's of the great Judge Smails, "The world needs ditch diggers too".
  • Frank M
    Blaming the FO for everything that's happened this off-season is the easy way out...the research I'm referring to is looking at the 2014 season. Harbaugh and his high-priced coaching staff failed miserably. So, changes were bound to happen...when your head coach and FO are on opposite ends of the spectrum, that's not a good scenario. Harbaugh was simply too stubborn...his offense was absolutely putrid, yet he stuck by Roman's predictable play-calling. Harbaugh cost the Niners a SB because of his stubbornness. He played his OL & DL vets an absurd amount of snaps, and we're seeing the impact of that this off-season. Same goes w/Willis. If it weren't for Baalke's stockpiling of talent the past few off-seasons, this team would truly be in shambles. But, they're not. Yet all you can do is blame the FO...pitiful.
    Jun 7, 2015 at 9:59 PM
    Response: "Failing miserably" at 8-8 with the most injury-laden season of the four is still better than any season this FO put together in the previous 8 years. Research that Frank. You can have all the talent you want, without the right coach you lose. You sound just as arrogant as York and Baalke right now proclaiming the team is all fine but you haven't the faintest idea what they'll do next year. If Tomsula pulls this off with that retread/reject coaching staff and with all that veteran talent and leadership out the door it won't be a miracle but it'll require a hell of a lot of things to play out in his favor. But you keep eating everything Jed feeds you, Frank and keep supporting an owner that would rather mind his ego than keep an employee on board that saved his ass, got a stadium built, and won a hell of a lot of football games. That sure isn't pitiful.
  • Frank M
    Wow...some of you should go to work for the Enquirer, Star or one of the other garbage rags. What proof do you have WRT your allegations? I'd bet none...just an opinion and you know what they're just like. The smell you're referring to is coming from your keyboard...not the Niner FO. You should be embarrassed to put out garbage like really should. That fact you obviously aren't is the most embarrassing of all. If you stopped to actually check some facts, you'd see how wrong you are. Davis and his OL mates played a ton of snaps together...and some are paying the physical toll of that. Look at Iupati the last couple of seasons...Kilgore was hurt in his 1st year of starting. It happens. I think AD is smart for getting himself totally healthy. He's a real person, not some puppet out there on the field. You'd do well to do some research before you put out 3rd rate hack material like you did. should be ashamed.
    Jun 7, 2015 at 11:44 AM
    Response: I may have never been prouder of a 500 word op-Ed. Tell me, what should I have "researched" before penning my own interpretation of why this team is having the worst offseason in recent memory? You should be ashamed of taking this so seriously.
  • MauiMike
    You spelled your last name wrong.
    Jun 7, 2015 at 10:09 AM
    Response: It's shaved apes like you that keep me from using a Pen-Name. You all just get so happy when you come up with that joke I can't possibly take that away from you.
  • Jacka
    Haha! Flores I know you feel the same way.
    Jun 7, 2015 at 8:37 AM
  • Flores
    I See you Jacka.
    Jun 7, 2015 at 8:24 AM
  • Jacka
    Good god this might be the worst article I've seen on this site. You want to criticize the team for not resigning Gore, Culliver, Iupati etc or drafting Armstead...fine. I don't agree with you but not a big deal. However, anyone who thinks that any of the retirements are due to management/ownership are complete morons. The author of this article is King of them all. No player is going to forgoe their career because they are unhappy with or don't believe in ownership or the GM. To try and surmise that they would have "fought through" their injuries or been more committed to beat up their bodies if ownership or management was different is beyond delusional. This Jesse guy is an idiot and gives every Niner fan a bad name.
    Jun 6, 2015 at 9:11 PM
    Response: "Gives every Niner fan a bad name" . Wow, sorry I did that jacka. I would think keeping my head in the sand and saying "everything is A-OK!" would make us look worse. My central argument wasn't that these players are quitting "because of management" but that their decision to walk away was much easier because of the atmosphere management has created. If that makes me "King of the morons" well, give me my damn crown already and shut up.
  • Tim
    Not sure why so many people are so down on this article. Its clearly an opinion piece and I think the main point is completely valid. "for any player to face the thought of starting over with a new head coach and all the work ahead of them just to get back to where they were less than 2 seasons ago they have to decide if it's worth it to them when the likelihood of getting the ultimate payoff in a championship seems pretty remote." I am not sure this applies to Borland, but for Anthony Davis and maybe Patrick Willis this had to go through their mind. Not only battling deabilitating injuries but then having to work through a new system, new coaching staff, etc... and work for several years to try and get back to where they were 12 months ago... that can be a tough sell for a player realizing the toll on his body from the game is starting to limit his off field life. I don't think anyone can deny that had to go through these guys heads while making this decision.
    Jun 6, 2015 at 7:04 PM
    Response: To me, the point seems inarguable. Most people seem to have read the headline, which admittedly may have been a little too direct, and assumed that my point was that it's management and management alone that's got these guys headed out the door. Not at all, but management certainly hasn't fostered and environment that would beget player loyalty, hence the decision for 4 separate players retiring became much easier.
  • Ray Fuentes
    You probably think there is a loch ness monster to don't ya? Sometimes when you try to make a name for yourself you do so at the risk of having made a baffoon of yourself. Stir the pot somewhere else.
    Jun 6, 2015 at 5:37 PM
    Response: Let me give you a tip Ray. If all you have to argue against someone's point of view you disagree with is calling them a name, at least make sure you spell the name right. I'll be sticking around, you can take your poor grammar skills to other articles.
  • Tyler
    I've noticed a pattern with all the articles you have written, you keep dwelling on the past and use "click bait" titles to get your views. I for one have decided to focus on the positive side of this off-season, and focus on what is actually happening rather than what could have been. I suggest you do the same. Also, coming from someone who is in the journalism business, I suggest you stop arguing with posters on your articles, extremely unprofessional.
    Jun 6, 2015 at 4:16 PM
    Response: My last 5 or so articles have been pretty down, I'll give you that. I'm DEFINITELY building a brand that would suggest I'm just the guy who's critical all the time and my thought on that is that I've earned the right. What nobody cares to see is how many years of my life I've invested in following this team. 8 years of complete ineptitude has me VERY concerned that this regime is taking us back to the bad old days. Be honest with yourself and tell me what "positives" have broken this team's way in the last year and how any writer could live with themselves just feeding the masses what they want to hear. Do I create "click bait" titles? Um...I think that's kind of the point. Myself and most of the other writers on this site are unpaid and do so for no other reason than our own enjoyment and to drive readership. Fighting with the commenters is just a bonus I choose to engage in so long as I have my amateur status. :)
  • Grammar cop
    "Toe the line."
    Jun 6, 2015 at 3:13 PM
    Response: Damn, I was wondering about that. Got it.
  • ntstokz28
    To those defending baalke and saying there was questions about a. Davis commitment in draft I remind baalke drafted him. His 1st rd picks to date 2010 davis....gone Iupati left in fa. In that draft was bulaga, d. Thomas, dez bryant, All taken after iupati 2011 got along smith. Not a bad pick (when he can behave and play) not that i dislike the pick but its worth mentioning 4 picks later the texans got some guy named jj watt. Maybe you've heard of him 2012 aj Jenkins. Not need to comment 2013 Eric ried. I'll give him that one Reid was great grab 2014 jimmy ward. It's early to say but so far doesn't look to be worth a 1st rd pick. That could change And this year armstead. Though I hope he turns out great he is still a project. And a team that missed playoffs and is losing players doesn't really go for projects in first rd. I'm not saying all his picks are bad he does good in later rds. Not to mention (though I like borland) if there was reports about him being one and done why draft him. No gm hits all the time but he isn't even batting .500 in first rd
    Jun 6, 2015 at 2:40 PM
  • Dan
    Actually the "sudden retirement of Patrick Willis" could be seen if a person understood the type of injury he had in his foot (feet?). It was the same injury that eventually did Deion Sanders in. The retirement of Cowboy clearly wasn't a surprise. Definitely the retirement of Chris Borland did catch many by surprise but every sword has a beginning point and the C.B. is likely the tip of the sword when it comes to young players contemplating their overall health compared to immediate health. Furthermore the loss of Gore, Lupati and Crabtree were also easy to read if people understand nuance. Lupati never was going to stay because he would simply cost too much. Period. It was time to move on from Gore. Period. Crabtree is self-explanatory (or should be!). ______________Lastly, get over Harbaugh being gone. Some folks can burn their welcome out and Harbaugh IS that guy. Period. He won't be at Michigan for more than 4 years then he'll be back in the pros. That IS his M.O.
    Jun 6, 2015 at 2:24 PM
  • Rich
    Seriously? Retirements by players who have had significant injuries is also managements fault? You're reaching here just to jump on management. Ridiculous argument. It's very clear guys are beginning to pay attention to the physical and mental toll this game exacts from them. That's a good trend but hardly one that is any team's management fault.
    Jun 6, 2015 at 12:55 PM
  • Pete
    Anyone who can't even admit that the recent events have any factor at all are just pulling wool over there eyes. And to go a step further than that and say harbaugh "worked them too hard" is really just so embarrassing it's funny. Worked too hard? Really? Making it in professional sports requires you to push yourself to the brink everyday every year your entire life now all of the sudden big scary harbaugh pushed them too hard?
    Jun 6, 2015 at 12:39 PM
  • leftysblues
    Baloney!Niners had one of the worse offensive lines in football.And as far as the Head coach is concerned what was the Niners record last year?It was time to thin out the herd make changes before you get too old.
    Jun 6, 2015 at 11:04 AM
  • Hawki
    Unfortunately everything you write in this article is true. I don't see any other team with so many premature retirements. 1 or 2 retirements you can write off as injury. But so many?
    Jun 6, 2015 at 7:27 AM
    Response: At a certain point it begs the question.
  • Ninersush
    This is a bunch of crap. Has nothing to do with management or coaching. It's cause there is more awareness about health. Period. That's a good thing cause now it will force the NFL to find ways to make the brain safer. This article is just complete hate drivel written to please the mindless masses. If you actually believe this than I feel for you. You must be trying to hone your troll skills or are the progeny of kawakami bayless and cohn. Complete crap article. Never reading you again.
    Jun 6, 2015 at 7:05 AM
    Response: I bet you do.
  • Deodato
    You know what I find comical is that am reading "fans" defend players saying "oh Jimmy worked them to hard and oh we went full bore for 3 years" give me a brake! Do you hear any of this out of NE? If you think Billy B., is not kicking ass and taking names your cray! The hard times we are going through right now is a sign of the direction of the organization and it shows that the players do not believe in the direction that the leadership is taking the organization as a whole. How many players do you see jumping ship on teams that are close to a title. . . It's not hard to see, we had a team and came real close to winning a 6th title (3 yards). We are now rebuilding and players don't want to be part of a circus.Remember when Mike S., was the HC and all the comments that came out offer a few players left?! Jim T., is in a AWFUL position. He is following a man that took us to 3 NFC Championships, 1 Super Bowl and 8-8 with an entire front office against him!! That is the standard now and he has to meet it! We are in the hole until Trent B., is ran out of town or channels his internal Carmen Policy and learns his role which is to be a Professional, not a dictator!
    Jun 6, 2015 at 7:04 AM
  • bob
    ALSO... i take it as a good sign that these guys are quitting. i dont want any players on this team that are going to go in there with doubt. i dont want anybody on this team that are going to go in and half ass it. we're not the raiders,or the browns,or the buccaneers.....WE'RE THE F'N 49ERS!!! the best team in the NFL! and this year we rise once again,we continue to fight as hard as we can,and we get back to the super bowl and prove everyone wrong! NUMBER SIX HERE WE COME!!!
    Jun 6, 2015 at 5:18 AM
    Response: There's drinking the Kool-Aid and then there's this guy. Preach on brother.
  • bob
    thats all a bunch of shit. willis,borland,justin,and now davis retiring has nothing to do with tomsula,or york,or even harbaugh leaving. these guys have been busting their asses for the past 3 years. harder than they ever did in their lives. to the point that their bodies broke down. our smashmouth style of play isnt easy. and its not quite meant for the longrun. it takes a ton of hard work and dedication to fight to the top. thats why teams that were in the playoffs 4 years ago werent in there last year. unless of course if you have a top notch quarterback with a top notch offense (patriots,broncos,packers ect) but you know how we play.... west coast offense is not easy to maintain. it takes so much hard work,and these players use and abuse their bodies. its a young mans game. which is what the seahawks had on their side,youth. they somehow managed to play the same way we do but with younger players. but baalke does a great job drafting o-line and d-line. he knows what to look for. anthony davis,and all of the others retired simply because they know what theyre in for. they know they have to get in there and fight again. they know whats going to be expected of them.
    Jun 6, 2015 at 5:12 AM

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