It's not often that a third-round pick retires from the NFL in just his second season, but that's the story of Alabama running back Glen Coffee(notes), who announced Friday that he was leaving the game of football. Coffee explained his decision in a statement released through the team.
"This has been a tough decision for me to make, but at this time in my life I feel it is best for me that I move on from football. I appreciate what the 49ers, my teammates and coaches have done for me, and I wish them a blessed season and all the best in the future."
Coffee later told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee the real reason behind his decision, a move that took everyone on the team by surprise.
"It was a struggle for a long time. Actually when I look back I feel I never should have entered the draft in the first place. Football was no longer my dream. I found Christ in college. It changed my views on everything. But I still was a football player because it was expected of me, it was something I did all my life. I was basically wasting the (49ers') time."
Coffee is the second 49ers player to have left training camp this week -- the team is trying to recoup part of the signing bonus given to 2008 first-round pick Kentwan Balmer(notes), who's currently AWOL after stretching a two-day leave given by the team.
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Coffee, who rushed for 226 yards and one touchdown on 83 carries in his rookie season, will be replaced in the rotation by rookie sixth-round pick Anthony Dixon(notes). Coffee informed Singletary of his decision on Friday morning.
"The one thing I learned a long time ago is that if someone wants to leave and you try to bring them back, talk them out of it, chances are you are going to have to try and talk them out of it again," Singletary told the media when asked if he tried to talk Coffee out of his decision. "That would be disrespectful to the guys out here. We have guys out here that really want to be here and I'm looking high and low to try and find those 53 that really love being here. And that's what the game is all about."
Coffee had added weight in the offseason to give himself a better chance of getting more reps in San Francisco's smashmouth running style. He won't file his retirement papers until Monday, but an about-face isn't in in the cards.
"I've already told Christ it's time to go," Coffee told Barrows. "I've already rung the bell. That's not going to happen."