“The 49ers drafted me, assuming I wanted to play more than one year,” Borland said on “CBS This Morning,” via CSN Bay Area. “At the time, I did, too. Things changed. They didn’t deserve to be undercut. And I didn’t want that to happen.”
San Francisco could have pursued $463,077 of his signing bonus had Borland not decided to return this money.
In an interview with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Borland said that his decision to retire from the NFL stems from the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma.
“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.”
This came less than a week after 49ers veteran ILB Patrick Willis announced that he was walking away from the NFL.
Many though that the 49ers would in decent shape at inside linebacker given that Borland put together an extremely impressive rookie season for San Francisco.
“I feel largely the same, as sharp as I’ve ever been, for me it’s wanting to be proactive,” said Borland. “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.
“I’ve thought about what I could accomplish in football, but for me personally, when you read about Mike Webster and Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling, you read all these stories and to be the type of player I want to be in football, I think I’d have to take on some risks that as a person I don’t want to take on.”
Borland, 24, had three years remaining on his four-year, $2.897 million contract and would make base salaries of $530,000 (2015), $620,000 (2016), and $710,000 (2017) coming his way over the remainder of his contract.
In 2014, Borland appeared in 14 games and recorded 107 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, a fumble recovery, and five pass defenses. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the N0. 4 inside linebacker out of 60 qualifying players.