Retirement- 12/22/99
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If one were to choose a subject for the 49ers this season, it could be one of several things... It could be the season of defeat, or agony, it could be the season of pain and injuries, it could be the season of desperate measurements, it could even be the season of irregularity. However with the constant talk of retirement regarding three of the teams stale mate all stars, I would like to nominate retirement as this years theme. Not only is a hot topic, but it may soon be a reality.

It is no secret that Steve Young is on the verge of retirement. Young has suffered more concussions than he can remember (pardon the pun) and the 49ers mainly Bill Walsh don't want to risk extreme brain damage to their friend and leader of the 90's. Young wants to take the field again, the competitive spirit still lives within him, and every 49ers fan would love to see him behind the centre again. The time has come though that we must say enough is enough. We can not force Young into retirement, and we shouldn't cast votes on if he should play or not. One can however cast a vote for humanity, and that seems to be the direction that Bill Walsh is taking the 49ers. Steve Young will retire, that is inevitable, it's how soon the retirement will come that is the true question.

For a long time now Tim McDonald has been a leader of the 49ers on and off the field. Essentially McDonald is one of the best strong safeties in the league, but he has been slowed recently, and the 49ers do have a young up and coming star in Zack Bronson who should be cracking the line-up any time now. McDonald is a huge aspect of the 49ers, he is essentially a coach on the field, and has a larger command of the game than any defensive player I have ever seen. Fortunately for McDonald, though it may be time to hang up the cleats, it may also be the time to see McDonald take on a coaching position with the 9ers. It is not that rare, especially within the 49ers organization that a former player switches to a coaching position. McDonald should follow in those steps.

Jerry Rice has been the biggest force on the 49ers for years. His face alone is as much the 49ers logo and the SF inscribed in a red circle is. Rice is the 49ers the two go hand in hand. Unfortunately like all good things, the end is near. Rice is no longer at the peak of his game, that is no secret, and having to adjust to yet another quarterback is something Rice shouldn't have to do. He has accomplished everything a football player can ever want, and is known as the greatest to play the game. As much as it pains me to say this though, unless Rice is willing to take a huge pay cut down to the league minimum this will most likely be his last season too. Rice wants to play more he really does, but at the moment he is just a good receiver with a huge cap figure, and Walsh knows that he can't rebuild the team with that much money invested in Rice. It wont come as a surprise to see Rice retire this season, it will however come as a painful loss.

Having said all this, I would like to say that I don't ever want to say it's time for a player to hang it up. I firmly believe that a players should decide on their own when it's time to call it quits. I do however see the benefits of these players retiring, I see the 9ers recovering quicker, I see the salary cap becoming manageable, and I see a Super Bowl sooner rather than later. As much as I hate to say it, there is no arguing with the truth. Bill Walsh will quite likely talk these players into ending their careers, and nobody really knows if that is right for the individual player, it is however the only thing the 9ers can do right now to get back on top quickly. It will be sad to see them go, but I feel honored for having seen them perform over the past decade and that is why my nomination for this seasons subject is retirement.
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