NFL

NFL AM: Another Stunning Retirement Rocks San Francisco 49ers

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Davis Walks Away

Now the 49ers know how Ray McDonald’s ex-fiance feels, because one by one, the hits keep coming.

San Francisco endured its third shocking retirement of the offseason — and fourth altogether — when 25-year-old RT Anthony Davis announced his intention to step away from the game.

Davis, the No. 11 overall pick out of Rutgers in 2010, started the first 64 games of his NFL career. However, a rash of injuries last year (shoulder, knee, hamstring, ankle, head) forced him from the lineup and caused him to question his future in the game.

“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,” Davis said in a release. “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.”

When Davis went down last season, he was replaced by swing tackle Jonathan Martin. However, Martin is now a member of the Panthers, leaving seventh-round pick Trent Brown to run with the starters for the time being.

Davis’ announcement follows the retirements of Patrick Willis (30), Chris Borland (24) and Justin Smith (35). Only Smith’s decision was expected when the offseason began in March.

Unlike the rest of San Francisco’s retirees, Davis is leaving open the possibility of returning to the game at some point.

“I hope you too have the courage to live your life how you planned it when day dreaming to yourself growing up,” he said. “Your Life is Your dream and you have the power to control that dream. I’m simply doing what’s best for my body as well as my mental health at this time in my life.”

This is the latest blow to the 49ers in an offseason that can be described as tumultuous at best and disastrous at worst. After parting ways with coach Jim Harbaugh (whose career winning percentage ranks fifth all-time), the team lost a slew of critical free agents including Frank Gore, Mike Iupati, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox and Michael Crabtree.

As a result, a team that was a play away from winning the Super Bowl three seasons ago is now looking up at three teams in its own division. Good luck, Jim Tomsula. You’re certainly going to need it.

Turner Praises Peterson

Norv Turner knows what a dominant running back looks like. He has coached three different players to the rushing title: Emmitt Smith, Ricky Williams and LaDainian Tomlinson.

If this week’s OTAs were any indication, Turner feels a fourth name will soon be added to that list.

“I’ve been around a lot of these guys a lot of years and he’s one of the top guys I’ve been around,” Turner told 1500 ESPN Radio. “He just comes out and looks like he hasn’t missed a day.”

That isn’t just coach speak, either. Players and local media alike have been amazed by Peterson’s performance thus far. And while it’s tough to evaluate running backs in shells, there seems to be a general consensus that Peterson is motivated to have a monster season to silence all his critics.

Turner has only coached Peterson for one game, last year’s Opening Day contest against the Rams (21 carries for 75 yards). However, Turner was on-hand for the most dominant game of Peterson’s career. Back in 2007, when Peterson was a rookie and Turner was in his first season as head coach of the Chargers, Peterson set the NFL single-game rushing record of 296 yards in a win over San Diego.

That game was Peterson’s coming-out party. And while the celebration was put on hold last season, it looks like things are ready to pick right back up where they left off.

Former Lions coach Jim Schwartz recently went on the Move The Sticks Podcast and explained how Peterson’s return will make things easier for Minnesota’s offense.

“There’s still some things for (Teddy Bridgewater) to figure out, but it does make it a lot easier for quarterbacks,” said Schwartz of having a dominant running game. “And it makes it a lot easier for wide receivers, when you know you’re going to be one-on-one for a significant portion of the game, and that’s what Adrian Peterson does.”

Peterson and Turner are a perfect pair. Minnesota’s offensive coordinator loves to use a power running game to set up play-action and open up the vertical passing game. With Bridgewater orchestrating the show and Mike Wallace now onboard as a deep threat, the Vikings’ offense suddenly looks like a top-10 unit.

The Vikings ranked just 27th in total offense last season, but with Bridgewater progressing and Peterson returning, soaring up those rankings will be as easy as flipping a switch.

Sample Snaps Arm

Initially, Jacksonville’s 2015 draft class looked like the best in franchise history. Just one month later, the class appears to be more cursed than anything else.

Fourth-round pick James Sample broke his right arm during OTAs on Thursday and underwent surgery one day later. He will now miss the rest of OTAs and mini camp, with the goal being to have him back at some point during training camp. A strong safety at Louisville, Sample was expected to compete for playing time at free safety in Jacksonville.

This is the second serious injury suffered by a member of Jacksonville’s draft class, as No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. tore his ACL during rookie camp and was immediately written off for the season.

Fortunately, Sample’s injury is not as devastating, as he should still be able to salvage the bulk of his rookie campaign. But it is still a tough break for the Jaguars, no pun intended, as Jacksonville looks to finally make some inroads in the win column after spending the last two seasons tearing the roster down to its studs and building it back up.

Sample was a playmaker at Louisville, posting 90 tackles, four pass breakups and eight interceptions last season. Now, Jacksonville will have to wait before injecting those playmaking skills into its secondary. And as most Jaguars fans will readily agree, they have waited long enough already.

Want to talk more about these and other headlines? Join Michael Lombardo for his weekly NFL Chat on Friday at 2pm EST. But you don’t have to wait until then … you can ask your question now!


About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has spent more than 10 years as a team expert at Scout.com, primarily covering the Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. He has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and other venues.