San Francisco 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis spent the majority of the 2015 football season teasing Niner fans on social media of his apparent desires to return to the NFL — Friday, ESPN reported the 26-year-old offensive lineman will apply for reinstatement for the 2016 season.
On Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, general manager Trent Baalke said he’s had conversations with Davis, but declined to comment on the topic of reinstatement. The former 11th overall pick was drafted by the Niners in 2010, and in July of that year, he signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract, with $15.95 million guaranteed.
“I’ve had some contract with him, but I have no idea what the status is at this point in time,” Baalke said. “He’s got to apply for reinstatement to the league.”
In June of last year, however, Davis abruptly left the team, announcing he would be taking time off from football to allow his “brain and body” to heal after he was limited to just seven games during an injury plagued 2014 season. He also sustained a concussion during that season. Davis’ exit was felt immediately — a struggling 49ers offensive line became more exploited, ranking 30th league-wide in run blocking and 6th in penalties. The offensive line also surrendered the second-most sacks in the league, at 53.
Relaying the message of how much he missed the game wasn’t the only message Davis sent on his Twitter page, he also took some time to critique the play of his former teammates. During a November loss to the Seahawks, Davis described what he thought was a “soft” performance from the 49ers most tenured player, Joe Staley. Soon thereafter, questions arose of whether or not Davis would be welcomed back in the Niners locker room.
“Anthony is a terrific football player,” Staley said. “I haven’t kept in contact with him this whole season, but if he’s ready to play football and ready to come back, we’d welcome him back. He’s a terrific football player and he brings a lot to the team. And a lot to the table.”
As he walked away under contract, Davis remains property of the 49ers, but his contract remains inactive until he submits papers to the league office to be reinstated off the reserve/retired list. Given the transgressions surrounding the offensive line, and the pending status of unrestricted free agent Alex Boone, the 49ers and Baalke would likely welcome Davis back with open arms when the April 4 offseason training program begins.
“Right now, that contract is being tolled,” Baalke said. “It’s just sitting there. It’s like the Internet cloud. It’s just up there.”
David Barclay is the 49ers Insider for byteclay.com. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @DJamesIII