49ers' Anthony Davis pauses NFL career so brain, body can 'heal'
San Francisco 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis announced his intention Friday to take at least one year off from the NFL, saying he needed to do what was best for his body as well as his mental health, according to an ESPN report.
The decision makes Davis the second 49ers player in his mid-20s to step away from the game for health and specifically head-trauma-related reasons.
"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. 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," Davis said in a statement.
"Im (sic) simply doing what's best for my body as well as my mental health at this time in my life," Davis added.
Davis will pay back a reported $4.66 million in signing bonus money, according to ProFootballTalk.com. NFL players are required to pay back all unearned signing bonus money in the event of a retirement.
The 49ers also released a brief statement Friday that thanked Davis for his contributions and wished him the best "as he moves on from the game," underscoring some confusion regarding Davis' future plans.
While several outlets such as ESPN.com and NFL.com initially reported Davis' retirement from the NFL on Friday, Davis announced on Friday afternoon his expectation of returning to the league in as soon as a year.
San Francisco would have the rights to Davis' contract if he does decide to return for the 2016 season, according to a separate ESPN.com report.
Former San Francisco linebacker Chris Borland, 24, announced his retirement from the game in March in response to concerns about the long-term effects of head trauma. At the time of Borland's announcement, San Francisco wished Borland the best of luck, but noted that the football has "never been safer."
In April, a federal judge approved a settlement between the NFL and approximately 6,000 retired players who say they suffer from concussion-related injuries. The dollar amount of the settlement is expected to reach the high hundreds of millions.
Davis' move is the latest in a sweeping string of personnel changes for the organization. In addition to Borland, 49ers players Patrick Willis and Justin Smith also announced their retirement from the team last month, albeit due to age reasons.
Former head coach Jim Harbaugh, who helped lead the team to Super Bowl 47 as well as three consecutive NFC Championship games, left San Francisco in late December to coach at his collegiate alma mater, the University of Michigan.
At least 17 of the 21 coaches from the 49ers 2012-13 Super Bowl squad are no longer with the team.
- Will Green