The San Francisco 49ers were just as stunned as everyone else by Chris Borland’s decision to retire after just one season in the NFL.
The team confirmed the story by ESPN’s Outside the Lines that Borland was walking away from the game at the ripe old age of 24.
“While unexpected, we certainly respect Chris’ decision,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “From speaking with Chris, it was evident that he had put a great deal of thought into this decision. He was a consummate professional from day one and a very well respected member of our team and community. Chris is a determined young man that overcame long odds in his journey to the NFL and we are confident he will use the same approach to become very successful in his future endeavors. We will always consider him a 49er and wish him all the best.”
Baalke told Outside the Lines he was concerned about the long-term health concerns of head injuries in the game.
“I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” Borland said. “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk. . . .
“I feel largely the same, as sharp as I’ve ever been, for me it’s wanting to be proactive. I’m concerned that if you wait [until] you have symptoms, it’s too late. . . . There are a lot of unknowns. I can’t claim that ‘X’ will happen. I just want to live a long healthy life, and I don’t want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise.”
Borland appeared to be a budding star for the 49ers. He managed to capably fill the shoes of NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis at inside linebacker for San Francisco last season while the two All-Pros missed time due to injuries.
Borland racked up 108 tackles, two interceptions and a sack in his rookie campaign before an injury suffered in Seattle in December landed him on injured reserve. With Willis’ retirement last week, Borland appeared to be destined to take full control of a starting job for the 49ers. Now they’ll have to move on and find a new option to take control of the middle of their defense.