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NaVorro Bowman makes ESPN’s All-Retirement team

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The 49ers haven’t had much in the way of sudden retires, but one memorable player made the 2019 list.

San Diego Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

I got a look at ESPN’s All-Retirement team for 2019 and had a realization the 49ers haven’t had any sudden retirements. This is a good thing. While the 2015 offseason seems like forever ago, there were retirements left and right; Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Anthony Davis, just ugh.

Well, in 2019, the 49ers don’t have any devastating retirements. Or at least, retirements they are scrambling to fill. Of that above list, Anthony Davis wanted to come out of retirement, but the 49ers were quick to put an end to that contract and let him venture out into the open world.

Other teams had some retirements, the biggest being New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. And that leads us to ESPN writer Jeremy Fowler’s 2019 All-Retirement team. You’ll find one 49er on this list, and it’s a good one: linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Football purists lauded Bowman as a tackling missile in eight years with the 49ers. His run of four All-Pro nods in five seasons from 2011 through 2015 will live in franchise folklore. Unfortunately, injuries kept Bowman from even more accomplishments. He missed 2014 with a major knee injury and part of 2016 with a torn Achilles tendon. He played one season with the Raiders, sat out 2018 and retired properly with the 49ers in June.

While I agree Bowman should be on the team, it’s just a shame that he’s on it. Alongside Patrick Willis, Bowman made one of the best linebacking tandems in the league. There were games he’d outplay Willis.

Unfortunately, that brutal knee injury in 2014 during the NFC Championship Game was the beginning of the end for Bowman. After being out for the entire 2014 season, Bowman returned in 2015 to help usher in the Jim Tomsula regime. In 2016, he ruptured his Achilles, and it was all over. When he returned for Kyle Shanahan, it was just a matter of games before the 49ers and Bowman would go their separate ways.

So all that happened, and Bowman is 31 years old. As good as Bowman was at such a young age, you’d think at 31 we’d be discussing how he’s going into Canton. He should be coming off a season knocking people senseless. Instead, Bowman announced his retirement during the 2019 offseason. This was after he sat out the entire 2018 season. While many wonder if the 49ers releasing Bowman was a good move, it could be indicative of something when he’s not showing up elsewhere.

It’s nice to see Bowman getting the respect he deserves, but I can’t help but think of what could have been. He was removed from the NFL far too soon.