For the second time in less than a week, the San Francisco 49ers have lost a player to retirement and this one might be more surprising than the first one.
Chris Borland, a 24-year-old linebacker who just finished his rookie season in San Francisco, surprisingly announced his retirement on Monday. Borland joins Patrick Willis, who announced his retirement on March 10.
It's too early to say whether or not the NFL is in trouble, but the trend of early retirement is something that should definitely concern the league. Borland and Willis -- who's only 30 -- join Maurice Jones-Drew (29), Jake Locker (26) and Jason Worilds (27) as players who have called it quits since March 1.
Without a doubt, the most surprising retirement of the five came from Borland, who only had one year under his belt and was poised to take over for Willis as the leader of the 49ers defense.
Needless to say, Borland's retirement sent shockwaves through the NFL.
Here's how several current and former players reacted on Twitter.
Former NFL receiver Donte Stallworth thinks Borland's retirement is going to start a trend of early retirements.
49ers young star Chris Borland's retirement after one season is the beginning of many more to come. Best wishes, kid! http://t.co/SxTwvrCPL6— Donté Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) March 17, 2015
It's extremely difficult when you're living your dream of playing in the NFL as a 20-something to contemplate what life could be like at 50.— Donté Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) March 17, 2015
Stallworth also said he's going to make sure the NFL doesn't go after Borland's signing bonus.
@RobertKlemko 49ers better not take that man's signing bonus. I'll be keeping an eye on that.— Donté Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) March 17, 2015
Borland earned $1,037,436 during his one season in the NFL, a total that includes a $617,436 signing bonus he got as the 49ers third-round pick in 2014.
As for other players, most were understanding of his decision, like Rams defensive lineman Chris Long, Giants offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz and Colts long snapper Matt Overton.
Got to respect Borland for clearly putting thought into his decision. If you're not 100% committed to this game, better to walk away.— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) March 17, 2015
WOW. I loved Chris Borland's game but I can't fault him for calling it quits. His concerns are real. Still it takes a man to do the logical.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 17, 2015
I don't feel bad for Borland. I feel happy for him. He's made a tough choice.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 17, 2015
Guys deciding to walk away from the game at a young age is a great reminder to us all that life has a bigger picture. I wish them the best!— Matt Overton (@MattOverton_LS) March 17, 2015
There were also guys like Russell Wilson, who played with Borland in college and made sure to wish him the best.
Pleasure playing with you Chris Borland @UWBadgers and against you for the @49ers Praying for you. #OnWisconsin— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) March 17, 2015
It was a honor playing with Chris Borland at UW, I wish him nothing but the best!— Kevin Zeitler (@kzeit70) March 17, 2015
And then there was Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, who didn't make many new fans with the tweet below.
So P. Willis and Chris Borland? They know something that we don’t?— Brandon Marshall (@BMarshh54) March 17, 2015
Of course, just because Borland's retiring doesn't necessarily we'll see a trend start and that's mainly because there's always going to be players like Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, who will play through anything.
No offense to anyone but I'm playing until I can't anymore. I love this game to much.— Bobby Wagner (@Bwagz54) March 17, 2015
It wasn't a shot at Borland I respect his game and his decision. Everyone feels different. I'm speaking from my point of view.— Bobby Wagner (@Bwagz54) March 17, 2015
Finally, here's a good example of why Borland is retiring: Because he doesn't want to end up like 29-year-old former NFL tight end Tom Crabtree.
It scares the shit out of me when i can't recall a name or forget where i put my keys as we all do. But thoughts of CTE always creep in.— Tom Crabtree (@itsCrab) March 17, 2015