That article came on the heels of star linebacker Patrick Willis retiring. Here's what's happened since that article came out:
- Inside linebacker Chris Borland unexpectedly retired, and stalwart defensive lineman Justin Smith confirmed that he will indeed retire.
- Starting right tackle Anthony Davis announced his retirement out of nowhere on Friday. We wouldn't blame new coach Jim Tomsula if he was starting to take this personally.
"I can't say it was shocking at all," Tomsula told NinersFan.com, indicating that Davis had been mulling this decision for a while. "Anthony has been working on himself right now."
Davis indicated that he could return to the NFL after a season or more away, but the 49ers have real offensive line problems now. Left tackle Joe Staley and guard Alex Boone are the only offensive linemen left from a strong 49ers offensive that made the Super Bowl just over two seasons ago. Boone is a candidate to kick outside to right tackle to take Davis' spot now.
"I don't think it's a huge blow to this team," Tomsula said. "We've got some guys that are doing some really good things right now that we're really excited about going into training camp."
This was always going to be an offseason of transition, even before the four retirements. It's a team that had a clear identity under Harbaugh with big bodies up front pushing other teams. Among the league's elite teams for three straight seasons with a young franchise quarterback, the 49ers surely figured they would have a long run among the NFL's power squads. They looked like a solid candidate to contend to play in Super Bowl 50 in their home Levi's Stadium.
Now the 49ers are a team under construction. The graphic above (punter Andy Leewas traded to the Browns on Saturday) from College 24/7 writer Bryan Fisher shows how much has changed since that Super Bowl. The 49ers are a reminder that teams aren't guaranteed to get cracks at a title every season, even when they have young talent at key positions.
The NFL moves fast and you never know what's around the corner. Tomsula and the rest of the 49ers organization surely can't wait for this offseason to end.