No. 5: Linebacker Chris Borland — with 49ers in 2014
The 2014 NFL season was the beginning of an end for many things in San Francisco. It marked the final season with the 49ers for head coach Jim Harbaugh and what had been a perennial playoff run previously.
It also marked the final season with the 49ers for linebacker Chris Borland. The interesting thing to note here is that Borland was a rookie.
The 49ers selected Borland in the third round (77th overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft out of Wisconsin. He made an immediate impact on the field in his rookie season. And with veteran linebacker Patrick Willis sidelined with injuries, Borland got to see extended field time.
He appeared in 14 games, making starts at linebacker in eight of them. In those games, he tallied 108 total tackles, two interceptions, one sack and one fumble recovery. In Week 11, he earned an NFC Defensive Player of the Week award.
And at the end of the season, he was named to the 2014 NFL All-Rookie team. He had a bright future in the league ahead of him. But ultimately before the 2015 season started he decided to retire citing concerns about his long-term health in regards to head trauma.
Borland’s career started with a bang but ended before the league and fans got to see the type of player he had the potential to grow into.