When T Anthony Davis abruptly retired last June, it may have been the final nail in the coffin of a San Francisco 49ers’ season that was over before it even started. The organization was already reeling from losing so many of it’s core players, and could ill afford to lose another central piece (especially one that helped anchor the offensive line).
When you listened to Davis’ reasoning however, it was tough to argue with why he was taking a hiatus from football.
“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,” said Davis in a satement. “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.”
You see, at 25-years old, the stalwart right tackle had already suffered from the side effects of concussions, and when you hear him describe what it was like, it’s easy to see how someone might want to step aside for awhile to get himself right again.
“It was a concussion. It’s not fun. It’s scary when your brain’s not working the way it’s supposed to. And the culture of this league is you’re a big, tough guy,” said Davis in December of 2014. “It was like a white fog, when you look out it’s a white fog. Or (it’s tough) just having a simple conversation. You just feel slowed down. It’s scary, but that’s only like the first three-four days you feel the intensity of it. Each day it gets better.”
Davis said all along he intended to return to football at some point, and had tweeted several times that he was planning on lacing up his spikes again in 2016. Pretty simple, right? He files the paperwork, reports to the team, and we’re back in business. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with the Niners these days, nothing’s that easy.
On the eve of the NFL draft, Davis went on a Twitter tirade, calling out GM Trent Baalke and the 49ers’ brass.
The 49ers should Draft an Offensive Tackle in the top 10. #NFLDraft2016
— AD (@BamDavis_) April 27, 2016
I do not want to work with a front office or anyone else who seemingly doesn’t want to win as bad as I do.
— AD (@BamDavis_) April 27, 2016
Now I’m not going to pretend that I have any idea what transpired between Davis and the team, and I am in no way condoning how Baalke and CEO Jed York have run things recently. Still, you have to understand why the 49ers would be a little irritated with Davis.
For one, as I stated earlier, he left the team in a really bad position. While Davis’ motives for taking time off were legitimate, his timing was terrible. Had he told the team prior to the NFL draft, it would have been more equipped to address the situation, and perhaps select a tackle or appraoch a trade with another team. Instead, the Niners were forced to make due with what they had, which was a rookie in T Trent Brown who wasn’t ready, and a veteran in T Erik Pears who had no business starting. While Brown did play well at the end of the year, most of the season was a dumpster fire on the right side of the line.
While plugging Davis back in could make things right again, the process has moved at a glacial pace and interactions between he and Baalke have seemed tumultuous. Davis is yet to even submit his reinstatement paperwork, and there were rumors that when he did, the 49ers would look to trade his rights anyway. In addition to that, Davis tweeted “I’ll be filing for reinstatement to the NFL later this year. Dealing with Trent is giving me a headache.” That tweet has since been deleted.
You can look at this in one of two ways. The first is that Davis already left the team once, and doesn’t seem in a hurry to get back on the field. He’s already missed one voluntary mini-camp, and has given no indication of exactly when he intends to submit his reinstatement paperwork. Why would Baalke and the 49ers want to adhere to someone who seems lukewarm about playing football for them? If you want to play for the team, great, it not, just be upfront and everyone can move on.
The second is that the Niners’ front office hasn’t exactly had a great reputation lately, and maybe they’re the ones giving Davis the runaround. Davis himself alluded to the fact that the team was being difficult to communicate with.
Would you happily rent your body out to people that bullshit you and constantly try to manipulate you? I hope you’d stand up for yourself.
— AD (@BamDavis_) April 28, 2016
So it’s altogether possible that Davis is trying to establish a relationship with the franchise, but the front office hasn’t been entirely truthful with him. Could it be that Baalke wants to see if he can come away with a tackle they have their eye on in the draft before committing to Davis again? Or maybe they are indeed looking to trade Davis’ rights, and Baalke just doesn’t know where he stands on a deal yet. You can see how scenarios like that would be frustrating to Davis if just wants a few insurances from San Francisco before returning.
The truth here probably lies somewhere in the middle, but that isn’t reassuring for 49ers’ fans who have been through the ringer time and time again over the past couple of years. I’m interested to hear what the opinions of the fans are, and what side (if any) they take in this situation.