The San Francisco 49ers had two players leave their most recent game due to concussions. Both happen to be major contributors. Vernon Davis and Eric Reid are following NFL protocol as they attempt to return for this Sunday’s big game against the New Orleans Saints. Should they pass every step of the protocol and become cleared to play, should the 49ers even let them?
First and foremost, if either player wants to sit, the 49ers should let him, no questions asked and nothing held against him. Reid is dealing with his second concussion of the season—a sign he needs to work on his tackling technique at this level. As for Davis, he is a known warrior who has dealt with concussions before and hates to sit out as much as anyone. It is hard to imagine a player admitting he does not feel right, but if either one does, he should be allowed to sit.
Now, if they both pass out of the protocol and say they feel up to playing, then what? Reid is only a rookie and more concussions could lead to an Austin Collie-type situation. No one wants that, not for his career and, more importantly, not for his life. The 49ers should hold him out of this game.
Vernon Davis is a more difficult scenario, as he is a veteran, is on his first recorded concussion of the season, and, to be honest, is much more vital to the team’s chances this week. Nevertheless, mental health should trump a football game.
The 49ers should keep both players on the inactive list this week. Yes, it is difficult to swallow, as it may cost us the game. Long-term, however, it seems right—not only for the 49ers, but more importantly, for the players themselves.