49ers confirm Chris Borland’s “unexpected” retirement

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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.

86 responses to “49ers confirm Chris Borland’s “unexpected” retirement

  1. The only thing that would have helped them “respect” his decision better would be for him to have made his decision about a month earlier so that the team could have planned a bit…….That may have also helped with the owed “signing bonus” payment issue……

  2. Man, imagine having to make THIS decision if you’re a player? I’m sure one day, he’ll think it was the right one. This signals the beginning of the end of football more than the end of the 49ers.

  3. Wow! That’s a stunner. Best wishes to you Chris — always a Badger in my mind!

    The 9er continues it’s dramatic fall from the graces of football powerhouses.

  4. I respect his decision , but the whole concussion thing has been blown way out of proportion. These guys are paid a lot of money to play this game. I just talked to a retired motorcycle racer a couple of weeks ago – he’s got steel plates , screws , etc , all over the inside of his body and once broke his neck in a crash (he wasn’t paralyzed , fortunately) . . . the most he ever made in a year ? A hundred grand.

  5. Was a big fan of his playing style. But he had to do what is best for him. Just like the NFL will do what it takes to serve its interests. Watch out for the deflategate investigation reports to be out any time now, to ensure the media gives that more cycles than this story on concussions and brain trauma which could be particularly damning to the NFL’s bottom line.

  6. The whole concussion thing has been “blown way out of proportion”? These guys are committing suicide, pal. Killing themselves to end the paranoia, depression, disassociation, confusion and just out-and-out pain that’s resulting from their brains being turned into something resembling sticky spaghetti. You think it’s out of proportion now, you best distance yourself from all sources of media immediately.

  7. If he regrets the decision, he can always come back.

    This certainly isn’t the “beginning of the end” of football. There’s way too much money earned from this game. Perhaps some rules may change, but the game will continue.

    We’ve seen plenty of players retire young/while their still atop their game in the past : Barry Sanders, Troy Aikeman, Tony Boselli, Gale Sayers, and Jim Brown. Sanders, Aikeman, and Boselli all cited a fear of permanent injury as their reason for hanging it up.

    The game goes on.

  8. Is this a joke?? Where getting puked right now. Aston come out now, this isn’t funny! Now gotta take that Mississippi state or Miami linebacker

  9. Take the helmets off or at least the face-mask and you won’t have guys leading with their heads and launching themselves at one another. Better tackling will have to happen and the concussion rate will fall.

  10. While I respect his decision, I really wonder if in twenty years he will look back and smack himself. The “real world” is not exactly a walk in the park either for most people.

    Guy made apparently about a million $ for one season. Minus taxes, agents fees, etc he may have taken home 500K. How much of that was already blown-nice apt in SF for the year, new car, etc? A nice little payday for sure, but not a life changing windfall.

    While concussion risk is certainly high, 99.9% of all males would trade places with him in a heartbeat.

    Assuming he did actually did graduate from Wisconsin with a degree in something useful and not just float through a few years of jock classes? A few decades of mind numbing work in a cubicle farm hoping to have enough left at the end of the year to take the wife and kids to Mexico for a few weeks would certainly make me wonder if I screwed the pooch a bit by walking away.

  11. as another one said, if he waited until he got a big windfall at the beginning of the new NFL season, that’s a dirty move. If it takes so long to process, he had time to process while on IR and should have retired after the 9ers played their last game. waiting this long is just a dirty move, noble decision my **s

  12. This guy is turning down the chance to earn life-changing money before the age of 30. However, if the NFL has him this frightened, he should quit now.

  13. Borland clearly values his quality of life. People forget that concussions aren’t the only major health risk that NFL players take. Those pain killing injections that players get have caused liver failure. What’s the point of being paid six or seven figures if you might not be around to see your 50th birthday?

  14. Albert Haynesworth signed a contract to play football for money, then decided to quit after getting paid, but not before…

    Chris Borland signed a contract to play football for money, then decided to quit after getting paid, but not before…he’s retired!


  15. You have to wonder if all of these players would still be leaving had Harbaugh not been shoved out the door.

    The number of guys opting to leave and walk away is alarming and unprecedented for the 49ers and their fans. I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t more to this story than just a confluence of coincidences.

  16. thenewenglandpatriots12 says:
    Mar 16, 2015 11:39 PM
    Respect his decisions but i wouldve traded places with him any day of the week.
    Understandable if you feel that you’re mind really has nothing else to contribute to the world and money drives your motives. Seriously I’m not bad talking. Cool that Borland realizes he has more to offer and his life isn’t about a status. If that’s what you feel in your heart, you gotta make that decision.

  17. Gut wrenching as a fan but as a man I’m proud of him. Football is not life and life is not living in a semi vegetive state at 50. He was very very physically talented but apparently his intellect far exceeds that. We will take heavy lumps this year without you bro but congrats. I hope you remain in football in some capacity. Godspeed.

  18. Dang. 49ers are screwed, who’s got it better? everyone not a 49er fan! Officially in rebuilding mode, maybe that Kaep trade rumor isn’t so idiotic… someone would give some serious draft compensation for that guy.

  19. I’m sure he would have stayed if Harbaugh was still Coach & we were still Super Bowl contenders…but money is no substitute for health if you’re consigned to bottom dweller status as Seattle’s whipping boys for the foreseeable future.
    I’m sure Jimmy T is a great guy to have a beer with but I wouldn’t trade being able to remember my name for an NFL career on his ship.

  20. Don’t blame these kids one bit. Especially with the mentality of our country at this time. Speaking from personal experience, people tend to look down on you when your 45 years old, walking with a cane, parking in a handicapped spot on disability. You get smart ass comments, then they apologize when they find out your a disabled vet. I’d imagine if my response was, well I was a Pro football player, there would be no sympathy.

  21. I’m now thinking my earlier projection of 6-7 wins may have be a little too optimistic. I figured we’d at least have a solid defense. But even that may not be the case now.

  22. andreboy1 says:
    Mar 16, 2015 11:48 PM



    I feel you bro. Saints fan….

    Given up trying to remember who’s still on the team from our Super Bowl season, hard enough working out who’s still there from last year!

    Oh wait, Stills is gone too

  23. Yet another player who doesn’t want to be part of this organization anymore. The reasons vary across the board, but the result is the same.
    York/Baalke cannot keep players – or coaches – in the building.

  24. After watching the new coach’s Tomasulas press conference can you blame him for not wanting to end up the same way duhhhhhh…..

  25. Yeah….something just doesn’t feel right about this. I don’t buy the reason behind this “retirement”. I’d follow the money on this one….see where he ends up “working” next. If every police officer,fireman or soldier decided to quit because of what “might happen”,we’d be living in a world full of cowards.

  26. Tough decision for a young man to make. I have a lot of respect for his maturity. Walking away from the nfl after one year takes a lot of strength. Good for you.

  27. Please take notice, Commissioner Goodell. Borland’s individual evaluation and decision to walk from the game at just 24, should scare the hell out of you. Here is a young man on the verge of becoming wealthy, but concluded that the risk of serious brain injury from playing the game is too high. He is the one in one thousand not to be consumed by the money. Congratulations, Chris Borland and best wishes for your future.

  28. Good for him to just walk…. Injuries are real and there is no price tag one can put on it 20 years later… I wish I would have done the same

  29. After meeting Beastmode, who just extended his contract, Borland knew had to confront the reality of his future.

  30. As a Badger fan, what surprised me about this decision is that Chris always seemed like a throwback player that wanted to be on the field at all costs. During his senior season, he was ruled out for an upcoming game due to an injury, but he still wanted to at least suit up with his teammates and stand with them in uniform on the sidelines. I definitely respect his decision, but am surprised that it was Chris Borland of all people.

  31. People are predicting the death of football because of a few scattered decisions like this, but football players aren’t bright enough to quit playing the game.

  32. Wow I thought this was a joke when I first saw the headline. This definitely makes the Patrick Willis injury sting even more. It’s a good thing No one jumped at Wilhoite on the trade block or we’d be hurtin even worse.

    Now let’s hope Bowman’s leg is doing as well as they say. Because after the injury he had he could be the one retiring.

  33. I wonder how much of his decision was based on knowing the 49ers are going to be bad for a decade?

  34. Interesting, not every player has significant neurological issues after playing, they do have significant orthopedic issues though, he must be experiencing something to walk away this younger, regardless it’s his choice

  35. It’s the kids decision but, since the 49ers are no longer a playoff calibre team, not sure it made a difference to them whether he played or not

  36. Right now, Bill Romanowski is somewhere losing his mind that anyone wouldn’t sell their own children for the privilege
    to play and stay in the NFL.

  37. The concern about him before the draft, other than size, was that he had a screw in his shoulder that might not hold up in the long run. Could have been and additional factor.

  38. In his early 20s with a few hundred grand in his pocket. Invest it smartly and he could have a nice chunk of change every year based on interest alone. Plus, he’s almost certain to remember his grandkids’ names when he’s 50 and will walk without a limp in his late 30s.

    Good for him. Smart man.

  39. This caught me off guard. I have been watching this guy play for a long time (Badgers Fan) and thought he looked really good this year. The good news is if he does regret his decision, he is only 24 and could easily come back and play again, its not like he is 34 and retiring. Look at Rolando McClain, that guy has “retired” twice already and he is just a little bit older than Borland.

  40. Unless they completely eliminate players using their helmet as a weapon (and that includes getting rid of MACK Truck face masks) the NFL will die. Using your head as a battering ram is not “the way the game was meant to be played”.

  41. Sounds like he wants out of the dumpster fire that is the 49ers. No sense risking another concussion playing for a team that has virtually no chance to go anywhere this season. Take a year off, get healthy, and then un-retire down the road.

  42. Smart guy…it’s not the concussions, every one focuses on the concussions themselves…it’s the constant battering of football head collisions that aren’t even causing concussions. Like jabs for a professional boxer, not all punches hurt physically but the build up of the tiny punches over years with concussions mixed in, cause the CTE. Sometimes a one punch knockout is the kindest thing in the world for those guys, saves them rounds of abuse. In the NFL I think we will see a lot more young players do this, they will play a couple, few years, through their first contract, and signing bonuses– sock some money away, and walk away with the majority of their health left in tact, with a little dough in the bank.

  43. robocop6849 says:
    Mar 17, 2015 3:07 AM

    Yeah….something just doesn’t feel right about this. I don’t buy the reason behind this “retirement”. I’d follow the money on this one….see where he ends up “working” next. If every police officer,fireman or soldier decided to quit because of what “might happen”,we’d be living in a world full of cowards.

    Putting your health on the line to play a sport is not the same as putting your life on the line to protect your country or your community. He isn’t quitting football because he’s a coward, he’s quitting football because he’s smart.

  44. Whoa??? Everybody could see this kid had top level instincts and could have been solid beside a healthy Bowman. Best of luck to you man. The 49er defense have so many loses after Fangio was passed over and left town.

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