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Rough offseason continues for San Francisco 49ers

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Earlier this offseason, before free agency even cranked up, Chris Wesseling wrote a piece with the ominous title: "49ers in danger of falling in NFC West basement."

That article came on the heels of star linebacker Patrick Willis retiring. Here's what's happened since that article came out:

1. Mike Iupati, Frank Gore, Chris Culliver, Michael Crabtree, and Perrish Cox were among the free agents to leave town.

2. Inside linebacker Chris Borland unexpectedly retired, and stalwart defensive lineman Justin Smith confirmed that he will indeed retire.

3. Starting right tackle Anthony Davis announced his retirement out of nowhere on Friday. We wouldn't blame new coach Jim Tomsula if he was starting to take this personally.

"I can't say it was shocking at all," Tomsula told NinersFan.com, indicating that Davis had been mulling this decision for a while. "Anthony has been working on himself right now."

The 49ers have had four quality starters retire in the same offseason, and Justin Smith is the only one that was expected. Davis received a seven-year, $39 million deal only two years ago, which shows how the 49ers viewed his run blocking.

We can't remember a similar offseason in NFL history. Jim Harbaugh is in Michigan running around shirtless with khakis, while the 49ers offense is led by Tomsula (a longtime defensive line coach) and longtime assistant Geep Chryst.

Davis indicated that he could return to the NFL after a season or more away, but the 49ers have real offensive line problems now. Left tackle Joe Staley and guard Alex Boone are the only offensive linemen left from a strong 49ers offensive that made the Super Bowl just over two seasons ago. Boone is a candidate to kick outside to right tackle to take Davis' spot now.

"I don't think it's a huge blow to this team," Tomsula said. "We've got some guys that are doing some really good things right now that we're really excited about going into training camp."

This was always going to be an offseason of transition, even before the four retirements. It's a team that had a clear identity under Harbaugh with big bodies up front pushing other teams. Among the league's elite teams for three straight seasons with a young franchise quarterback, the 49ers surely figured they would have a long run among the NFL's power squads. They looked like a solid candidate to contend to play in Super Bowl 50 in their home Levi's Stadium.

Now the 49ers are a team under construction. The graphic above (punter Andy Lee was traded to the Browns on Saturday) from College 24/7 writer Bryan Fisher shows how much has changed since that Super Bowl. The 49ers are a reminder that teams aren't guaranteed to get cracks at a title every season, even when they have young talent at key positions.

The NFL moves fast and you never know what's around the corner. Tomsula and the rest of the 49ers organization surely can't wait for this offseason to end.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses the best available free agents and the guys play another edition of What's more likely. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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