Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports


Making sense of Anthony Davis and Andy Lee

Al Sacco
Jun 11, 2015 at 11:38 AM4


Well, you can say one thing about being a San Francisco 49ers' fan, there's never a dull moment.

Just when most thought this offseason couldn't get any more bizarre, the Niner Faithful were hit with two bombshells over the weekend as Anthony Davis abruptly retired and Andy Lee was traded.

While the shock may still be prevalent for most, it's important to take a step back and make sense out of what all of this really means.

Losing Davis a critical blow, no matter how the organization wants to spin it. Anytime you lose a 25-year old cornerstone offensive tackle, it's going to hurt. Just take a look at how poorly the 49ers' offensive line played last season without Davis for all but seven games.

When you consider the reasons Davis gave for walking away (or taking a break or whatever you want to call it), it's hard to blame him though. He talked briefly last season about how scary it was for him after his first concussion forced him to miss four games late in the year.

"It's scary when your brain's not working like it's supposed to and the culture of this league is, 'You're a big, tough guy,' " Davis said. "It's like a white fog. You look out and it's a white fog. Just having a simple conversation. You just feel slowed down."

The frustrating part is that this is the fourth San Francisco player to retire this offseason, and three of them did so in a surprising fashion. While Justin Smith calling it quits was expected, no one knew Patrick Willis' feet issues were that severe or that Chris Borland and Davis had fears about head trauma.

I think that more players will choose to walk away early in the coming years, it's just crazy that they all seem to be coming from the 49ers right now. But I also do not think this has anything to do with the 49ers' management as some have suggested. If these guys are so turned off by the organization, they would have asked for a trade. You just don't walk away and leave millions on the table because you're mad a the team and not seek employment elsewhere.

As far as the future of the right tackle position goes, replacing Davis will be a tall order. The team's next best tackle might be playing guard, so it wouldn't shock me if they consider moving Alex Boone back to the outside at some point. The other candidates would be Erik Pears (who is currently filling in) or rookie Trenton Brown.

The possibility of Boone could be intriguing though, especially if Brandon Thomas and Marcus Martin look good at the guard spots in camp. A line of Joe Staley, Thomas, Daniel Kilgore, Martin and Boone is compelling (at least to me).

The Lee situation is far less concerning, although some seem to be using it as another reason to pile on the organization.

Lee was coming off one of his worst seasons, and was due to make over $2 million dollars in 2015. That number was only escalating after that, and would have been nearly $3 million next season. Why pay that kind of salary for a punter who may be declining?

Couple his salary with the fact that the team used a fifth-round pick on Bradley Pinion in the draft, and the writing was on the wall here.

I think a lot of the shock with Lee being traded comes from the fact that he was a three-time Pro Bowler who had been with the team since 2004. In reality, moving on from a soon to be 33-year old punter whose best years may be behind him will not make or break the 49ers' season.

Al Sacco has covered the 49ers for various sites over the years. He's been a guest on multiple podcasts and had his work used by ESPN NFL Insiders and USA TODAY. Follow Al on Twitter @AlSacco49
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


4 Comments

  • Bilal
    Losing Davis is HUGE, we did'nt have any one guy to plug in last season and please spare me Johnathan Martin. Davis was dominant when healthy and has left a serious hole unless Brown or Boone step up big!
    Jun 11, 2015 at 12:35 PM
    0
  • JB
    The Pinion pick is only 23 picks ahead of where the Niners picked Lee. How did that workout for us? A 5th versus a 6th in Andy. Pinion at pick 165 and Lee at 188. And the redshirt players people have complained about over the years can be intrigual components on our O-Line this year. And if you are going to dog a pick taking a punter in 5th how about people commend grabbing a 7th round lineman that is in the mix for O-Line in Trent Brown? The reason why people aren't totally devastated on this unique offseason is because the players Baalke has drafted and acquired over the years who are primed to step in.
    Jun 11, 2015 at 12:31 PM
    0
  • GM
    Cornerstone? I don't know about that. And quite honestly there's no "spin" coming out of the organization. No one is saying losing Davis wasn't difficult but to infer that losing a RT in May is "critical blow" is a bit melodramatic. Losing a starting left tackle is a "critical blow". I guess if Staley had retired would it have been a" loss ridiculously epic proportions?"
    Jun 11, 2015 at 12:21 PM
    0
  • don
    Not surprised about Andy Lee. Lobbing a 5th round pick into the hat is like a first rounder for Ray Guy back in the Al Davis days. Pinion has a phenomenal leg. Definitely surprised that Davis retired. Did not see that one coming. My only issue is that if Trent Baalke even had an inkling that Davis was contemplating not returning he should have drafted an O lineman early or several later. We lose Iupati and Davis. Those are big holes. And if you don't control the LOS, you're a sub .500 team in today's NFL..
    Jun 11, 2015 at 12:09 PM
    0

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