Does Borland's decision impact Reid's future?

Chris Borland retired to avoid the long-term affects of head trauma. So what does that mean for Eric Reid, who sustained three concussions in his first 16 months in the NFL?

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After all that's happened this offseason, it's fair to pose the question:

Has the immediate future 49ers Pro-Bowl safety Eric Reid been affected by Chris Borland's decision to retire?

Reid sustained an eyebrow-raising total of three reported concussions in his first two seasons in the NFL, three more than Borland ever had before retiring from football earlier this week wanting to avoid the long-term impact of head injuries.

Borland left the game preemptively, saying in an ESPN "Outside the Lines" piece he thought he felt a minor concussion during last summer's training camp, which spurred a letter to his parents saying he believed his career in the league would be short. Otherwise, it was his injured ankle that forced him out of games late last season, not his head.

Reid has given no indication that his third concussion, sustained in Week 16's loss to the Chargers, would have any significant impact on his short-term future with the 49ers.

"This one was more minor. I think they’re all minor," Reid said the day after the regular season ended. "I just got to go through the protocol, but I’ll be fine. I know everybody’s worried, but I’m healthy."

Reid did not miss time after either of his first two concussions, both sustained in his rookie season in 2013. But his third concussion led to the first missed start of his career in the season finale against Arizona.

"From what the doctors told me," he explained, "they have different symptoms that go alone the degree of the concussions. I’m just showing minor symptoms. Slight headache, went away within an hour. So they were minor."

Things have changed since then. Patrick Willis, 30, retired while arguably still in his prime last week citing pain in his feet, while Borland hung it up at the ripe age of 24, poised to take over Willis' starting job as a defensive anchor.

To be clear, this is not a report that anything has changed with Reid since those last words at the end of 2014. He could very well be good to go for the team's offseason program kicking off in the coming weeks, leading into a healthy start to training camp this summer.

But after experiencing three concussions in his first two NFL seasons, despite being termed "minor," the leash on Reid's career might be getting tighter. Based on everything that's happened to alter the climate of the league, particularly regarding the heightened sensitivity to head injuries, Reid is one 49er worth keeping an eye on in the coming months.

Of course, many players in the NFL are dealing with recent concussions. Borland's early retirement might not have the significant impact on the league that some are fearing. Calling me an alarmist for bringing Reid into the conversation wouldn't be entirely unfair.

The San Jose Mercury News reported an excellent piece about Borland's retirement after speaking to doctors about brain trauma.

"...I think the story that hasn't been told is that there have been a lot of advances in how we treat it," Micky Collins of the Pittsburgh Medical Center told the Mercury News. "I think we're getting better and better and better at the management of the injury. I actually think there's never been a safer time to play than right now because of all the advances."

There are two sides to everything, including the idea the NFL is in serious trouble as concerns rise about brain trauma.

But for Reid, specifically, there's little doubt he's been burdened by questions both internally and externally about the potential risk he is taking after hearing of Borland's decision. And those burdens will intensify if he suffers a fourth concussion at any point in 2015.

Next story:

Borland stuns 49ers, retires

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