Chris Borland

Sunday Roundup: Borland, Saints, Mariota

Chris Borland surprised the football world when he announced his retirement in March on the heels of a promising rookie campaign. Perhaps even more surprising was that he agreed to return three-quarters of his signing bonus to the 49ers, a sum of over $460,000. Speaking at the 2015 Legends of Wisconsin Golf Classic last week, Borland was asked about his decisions and emphasized that his choice to retire was motivated by health concerns. As Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, Borland said he decided to walk away based on “a combination of my own experience, along with a lot of data that is out there regarding long-term health effects of head injuries. And I play a position and a style of play where I was susceptible to the worst of it. I played a physical brand of football and played through some things where it makes sense for me.”

When asked about why he returned a large portion of the signing bonus, Borland said simply, “I signed a contract. I was living by the contract.” As for his future plans, Borland said a trip to Europe is next on his agenda, but otherwise, “I’ve got a few pretty decent options. I’m not going to hurry up and start a career. I’m going to take my time.”

Now for a few more links from around the league:

  • We cited this mailbag from’s Mike Triplett yesterday to provide a surprising stat on Drew Brees, but it also made sense to pass along Triplett’s thoughts on the Saints‘ cornerback situation. Triplett writes that the top four spots are probably reserved for Keenan Lewis, Brandon Browner, P.J. Williams, and Damian Swann. After that, he sees Delvin Breaux and Stanley Jean-Baptiste as the frontrunners for what may be the final two cornerback openings on the roster, leaving veterans Kyle Wilson, Terrence Frederick, and Brian Dixon on the outside.
  • Paul Kuharsky of thinks Marcus Mariota is determined to be present at Titans training camp, though it is possible his agents could convince him to stay away. The holdup in the team’s contract negotiations with its potential quarterback of the future is offset language, and Kuharsky writes that GM Ruston Webster simply needs to get Mariota to camp, either by convincing him the Titans are not going to move off their offset philosophy or by coming off their offset philosophy.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer believes the Browns are pretty pleased with their current tight end situation, and she does not foresee the team adding to its TE corps. She also says Cleveland is hopeful that one of its talented young running backs will ultimately separate himself from the pack, but that the Browns will distribute the rushing duties fairly evenly to open the season.
  • Mike Klis of examines the impact newly-acquired safety Darian Stewart will have on the Broncos and whether the former Ram and Raven will represent an upgrade over Rahim Moore, who departed in free agency.

Chris Borland To Return Part Of Signing Bonus

After 49ers linebacker Chris Borland announced his retirement on Monday, questions arose regarding whether San Francisco would attempt to recoup a portion of his signing bonus, which the club has a right to do. Borland ended any speculation about the matter today, telling CBS’ Face the Nation that he would repay 3/4 of his bonus to the 49ers (link via Gregg Rosenthal of

“I’m only taking the money I’ve earned,” said Borland. “To me it’s just about health and nothing else. I never played the game for money or attention. I love football. I’ve had a blast. I don’t regret the last 10 years of my life at all. I’d do it over the exact same way.”

As such, Borland will pay the 49ers $463,077 — for salary cap purposes, that same amount will remain on SF’s books as dead money. The 23-year-old’s base salaries for the next three seasons, which were set to total less than $2MM, are wiped out due to his retirement. In total, Borland will have earned about $574K for his one year in the NFL.

Earlier this week, Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap examined the Borland/bonus issue, arguing that the Niners had to attempt to reclaim the money as a matter of precedent, comparing the situation to the NFLPA fighting on behalf every player, even those who have committed crimes.

Extra Points: 49ers, Hardy, Peterson, Rivers

49ers CEO Jed York appeared on Bloomberg Television on Tuesday to discuss a number of different topics, including the surprise retirement of Chris Borland (via

“We respect it, and I love Chris. He’s a great kid. And it’s certainly a surprise to us and I think to some of his teammates. But you have to respect the decision. If he fears for his health and safety going forward, I don’t ever want somebody to go out there and do something that they’re not comfortable doing. And I would never try to talk somebody out of retirement. I know it wasn’t an easy decision for him, but we respect him and we wish him the best.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Greg Hardy spurned the Buccaneers for the Cowboys earlier today, but as Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times writes, it may have been the organization that rejected the player. “At the end of the day, we didn’t feel good about it,” said general manager Jason Licht.
  • Count Larry Fitzgerald among those who’d like to see Adrian Peterson wearing a Cardinals jersey next season. The veteran wideout told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that adding the All-Pro running back would be a “game-changer” for the organization. “Obviously, he’s an MVP-caliber player,” Fitzgerald said. “Everybody knows that. Any team he ends up with — or if he stays with the Vikings — is going to have a great back. If he was to come play here, it would obviously mean a tremendous amount for our ballclub.”
  • Following news that Philip Rivers wouldn’t consider a new deal with the Chargers until the end of the 2015 season,’s Ian Rapoport says the organization has no intention of letting the quarterback depart (via Around The NFL on Twitter). Rapoport notes (on Twitter) that both sides have plenty of leverage during negotiations.
  • CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweets that the Bills actually signed wideout Percy Harvin to a three-year, $24MM deal, but the contract voids to a one-year, $6MM pact. As WGR550’s Joe Buscaglia points out on Twitter, this saves the organization $2MM in 2015 cap through “signing bonus proration,” meaning the player’s cap hit for this season will be $4MM as opposed to $6MM. Furthermore, if the Bills decide to void the contract following 2015 (which they’re expected to do), they’ll get hit with $2MM in dead money.

Reaction To Chris Borland’s Retirement

In the 49ers’ statement concerning Chris Borland‘s retirement, GM Trent Baalke expressed his thanks to the young linebacker. “While unexpected, we certainly respect Chris’ decision,” said Baalke. “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.”

Let’s take a look at some more reaction to tonight’s shocking announcement…

  • Borland is retiring due to concussion concerns, but he also suffered from shoulder injuries in college and at the end of last season. Multiple scouts told John Middlekauf of (Twitter link) that Borland’s shoulder issues were “no joke,” so perhaps those ailments also played a role in his decision.
  • Indeed, many clubs thought Borland’s career would be cut short due to those shoulder injuries, adds Matt Maiocco of (via Twitter).
  • Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) believes Borland could move into coaching, calling him a “very smart player who loves the game.”
  • Though Borland’s announcement might not lead other players to retire in their primes, Andrew Brandt of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter) thinks it could make players less inclined to hide concussions and other head injuries.
  • If the 49ers are looking for a replacement at linebacker, they should contact the Ravens about Arthur Brown or the Eagles about DeMeco Ryans, tweets Miller.
  • Middlekauf (via Twitter) wonders if San Francisco could attempt to recoup a portion of Borland’s signing bonus, which they’re probably entitled to do. The 49ers would be going after less than $500K, however, so I doubt they’d risk the public relations headache of doing so.

Chris Borland Retires

10:25pm: The 49ers have confirmed Borland’s retirement.

9:11pm: 49ers linebacker Chris Borland will retire after just one NFL season due to concerns about repeated head injuries, according to Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru of ESPN’s Outside the Lines. Borland notified the 49ers about his decision on FridChris Borlanday.

“I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” Borland told Outside the Lines. “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,” he continued. “I’m concerned that if you wait till 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.”

As the ESPN scribes note, Borland will become the highest-profile NFL player to leave the game because of concussion concerns. Player safety, and specifically head injuries, has been on the NFL’s plate for awhile, but the issue has mostly been related to former players. The league has instituted new sideline concussion protocols, but the retirement of Borland — a player entering his prime, and having only played a single season — will surely shed new light on the issue.

Prior to San Francisco’s fourth preseason game, Borland wrote a letter to his parents indicating that he believed his career might be cut short because of head injuries. His concerns “gathered steam” throughout the season, and once the year concluded, Borland met with researchers and former players before he made his final decision. He’ll continue to undergo tests to “maintain his well-being” and contribute to further concussion research.

A third-round pick in last year’s draft, Borland was a revelation at linebacker after taking over following injuries to Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. In only eight starts, the Wisconsin product racked up more than 80 tackles, showing himself to be an excellent run-stopper. In his limited snaps, Borland ranked as the fourth-best inside linebacker in the league, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

The 24-year-old Borland will become the second San Francisco linebacker to retire in the past week, as the veteran Willis also hung up his cleats. Moreover, defensive lineman Justin Smith is also contemplating retirement, corners Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver were lost to free agency, and embattled end Ray McDonald isn’t expected to return. As such, the unit, and new coordinator Eric Mangini, will certainly face an uphill battle in 2015 as the team as a whole looks to move past its subpar 2014 season.

Borland is the third young NFL player to retire in the past seven days, as linebacker Jason Worilds and quarterback Jake Locker also called it quits last week. Each of those players cited a lack of passion for the game when retiring, however, so Borland’s explanation will surely stir more headlines and discussion.

Minor Moves: Saturday

We will keep track of all of Saturday’s minor transactions here. As usual, newest moves will be added to the top as they come in:

  • The Seahawks have made a change to their 53-man roster, placing tight end Rashaun Allen on waivers and promoting offensive lineman Keavon Milton from their taxi squad, tweets Brian McIntyre. Milton will provide some depth on Seattle’s offensive line as the team prepares to be without Russell Okung and Max Unger this weekend in Arizona.

Earlier updates:

  • Earlier today, the Raiders placed Tarell Brown on injured reserve. The team has signed linebacker Spencer Hadley off of its practice squad to fill Brown’s roster spot, according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • The 49ers have placed rookie inside linebacker Chris Borland on the injured reserve, reports Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). The team has promoted outside linebacker Chase Thomas from its practice squad.
  • The Buccaneers have placed safety Major Wright on injured reserve, reports Scott Smith of (via Twitter). The team has promoted cornerback C.J. Wilson from the practice squad to the active roster to fill his spot.
  • The Dolphins have signed wide receiver Matt Hazel off of the practice squad to the active roster, reports James Walker of ESPN (via Twitter). The team has released linebacker Jake Knott to make room for Hazel.

West Notes: 49ers, Harbaugh, Allen, Borland

Even though the 49ers have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, GM Trent Baalke said on 95.7 The Game that a decision on the status of Jim Harbaugh won’t be made until the team has finished its 2014 schedule. “When the season ends, decisions are going to be made,” Baalke said, via Matt Maiocco of “And that’s when that conversation is going to take place. Jim and I sat here this morning and we basically talked about just that, and we talked about what we needed to do from a roster standpoint to get ready to play Saturday.”

  • While there are rumors linking Harbaugh to Michigan, Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News (on Twitter) firmly believes that the 49ers coach wants to stay in the NFL.
  • Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen suffered a broken collarbone along with an ankle injury in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos, as Ricky Henne of writes. Allen won’t suit up on Saturday, but he also won’t be heading to the IR, according to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego (on Twitter). There’s no surgery planned for Allen’s broken collarbone at this time.
  • 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio today said “it would be a stretch” if Chris Borland, who injured his ankle Sunday in Seattle, were able to play again this season, writes Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee. It’s disappointing news for Borland, who leads SF in tackles and was a legitimate candidate for rookie defensive player of the year.
  • With two quarterbacks sidelined, Ryan Lindley is scheduled to start for the Cardinals when they face Seattle on Sunday. The Seahawks studied Lindley before drafting Russell Wilson in 2012, as Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times writes.

49ers Notes: Boone, Looney, Borland

We learned several days ago that some teams have expressed an interest in trading for 49ers’ holdout Alex Boone. Boone has stated that he will not report to camp until he has a new deal, but San Francisco has stood by its policy of not negotiating a contract with a player until that player shows up. In a video post, Matt Maiocco of says that other teams have not yet spoken directly with the 49ers about the possibility of acquiring Boone.

Although these impasses have a tendency of working themselves out and often result in new contracts or some other resolution that allows both parties to publicly reconcile, the demand for quality linemen like Boone may make the 49ers think twice. If a team like the Giants become desperate enough–and they are already deeply concerned with the development and chemistry of their remade offensive line–the 49ers would have to give serious thought to a potential trade.

Now for some more 49ers notes:

  • Joe Looney, who is currently filling in for Boone, scored a -0.7 grade from Pro Football Focus for his performance in the team’s preseason opener against Baltimore, observes Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. Barrows notes that Looney “appeared to come out of his stance too soon and lose his balance.”
  • According to Barrows, the right side of the 49ers’ offensive line, which included Looney at right guard and Jonathan Martin at right tackle, was weaker than the left side in the first preseason game, but they were not horrible, and head coach Jim Harbaugh noted that there were a number of correctable issues. Given those comments, it looks as though the team may wait another couple of weeks before making a decision on Boone.
  • In a separate article, Barrows notes that the 49ers are a little thin along the defensive line after losing Lawrence Okoye to an ankle injury on Thursday, but “reinforcements” in the form of Justin Smith and Ray McDonald should be returning shortly.
  • Barrows also notes that rookies Marcus Martin and Aaron Lynch had their first full practice on Saturday.
  • Rookie linebacker Chris Borland, who is fighting to replace the injured NaVorro Bowman in the first half of the season, said he had an “up and down” performance against Baltimore on Thursday, Bill Williamson of writes. Borland said he is hoping to improve his pre-snap work in the team’s second preseason game against Denver next week.
  • In a different post, Williamson points out that recently-signed wideout Lance Lewis is likely just an “August body” and will probably be released once Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd are fully healthy.
    Read more here:”

NFC Notes: Saints, Washington, 49ers

The Saints have a few positions battles that might not be decided until late in training camp, according to Rachel Whittaker of She mentions options at starting center, as well as the overhaul of the receiving corps.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC:

  • Another position on the Saints that is left in limbo is the defensive backfield, writes Katherine Terrell of The team knows who the starting safeties should be, but they have a deep group of cornerbacks behind Keenan Lewis fighting for the second corner job. The team gets Patrick Robinson back from injury, in addition to Corey White, free agent veterain Champ Bailey, and second-round pick Stanley-Jean Baptiste, among others. There are 11 cornerbacks on the 90-man roster, when only five made the final roster last season.

  • Recently suspended Cardinals‘ linebacker Daryl Washington stand to lose a lot of money due to his most recent transgressions, writes Jason Fitzgerald of Washington will forfeit his 2014 base salary of $2.9MM and his prorated signing bonus of nearly $500,000, but will still have almost $13MM of potential earnings upon his return, as his current contract runs through 2017.
  • 49ers‘ linebacker Michael Wilhoite and third-round pick Chris Borland will fight for a starting job at inside linebacker to begin 2014, writes Eric Branch of The position is open due to NaVorro Bowman‘s injury at the end of the NFC Championship Game, and one of those two players could be lining up next to Patrick Willis at times in the upcoming season.
  • Jeremy Maclin is back with the Eagles, and head coach Chip Kelly is excited to have another weapon in his offensive arsenal, writes Andy Jasner of “Mac’s doing a really good job, just getting back familiar with it. I was really excited about how he would fit into what we do because of what he can do. And then to lose him that early in camp was disappointing. You got a taste of him,” said Kelly. “But having him out there full speed running out there right now, he’s doing a really good job.”
  • The Falcons have a long list of expiring contracts on their roster, and as they move to more 3-4 opportunities on defense, they could be in store for a major overhaul in talent, writes David Choats of They put together a list of these players who will be free agents in 2015.

Extra Points: RGIII, Baldwin, Borland, Pugh

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III says he’s already developed a rapport with newcomer DeSean Jackson, writes’s Tarik El-Bashir. “It’s there,” Griffin said, asked about finding chemistry with Jackson. “We’ve been throwing a lot and he’s been here for the majority of the offseason program. I know there was the big splash about him not being here at the beginning, but he’s been here since then.” More from around the league..

  • Wide receiver Doug Baldwin has a new deal that can keep him with the Seahawks through 2016, but he says the contract won’t change much for him, writes Todd Dybas of the News Tribune. Baldwin agreed to a two-year extension and although he didn’t address a report from ESPN’s John Clayton that he turned down a four-year, $20MM offer, he acknowledged that he enjoys the flexibility of his new pact.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap has the details on third-round linebacker Chris Borland‘s deal with the 49ers.
  • Saints unrestricted free agent Jordan Pugh had a tryout with the Bears, tweets Howard Balzer of USA Today Sports.
  • Paul Kuharsky of looks at the undrafted Titans rookies who received bonus money.