Ahmed Plummer Retires.


Mar 27, 2006
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Matt Maiocco, of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, reports free agent CB Ahmed Plummer (49ers) has retired from the NFL.


Staff member
Mar 7, 2005
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Plummer too passion-challenged to play starring role
Column by Monte Poole

DON'T BLAME Ahmed Plummer if his impact never matched his billing, or if his presence fell short of his credentials.

Blame the 49ers. They broke one of the cardinal rules of wise drafting.

No team in any sport should draft someone in the first round based simply on that individual's talent and skills.


What should be proved behind rumor is that the individual also is passionate about competing. Run tests. Quiz coaches. Check his cup, so to speak. Do what you must. But find out.

If he isn't the last guy to quit, be skeptical.

If he's the first to quit, draft someone else.

While Plummer exhibited many characteristics — most of which were affiliated with dedication, intellect or spirituality — passion for football and its requisite violence was not on the list.

So his quiet retirement last weekend, at age 30, is not a surprise.

In releasing Plummer four months ago, the 49ers sold the move as a salary-cap casualty. Don't buy it. It was obvious they had lost interest.

The team's first-round pick in 2000, from Ohio State, Plummer in recent months reportedly had discussions withseveral teams, none of which was willing to offer a contract. In all likelihood, none was convinced he was able or eager to play.

Plummer's surrender is as much a result of dwindling commitment as league-wide disinterest. He's a devout Christian, but it's too simple to imply God directed him elsewhere. He's an Academic All-America, with parents who graduated from Cornell, but it's cavalier to suggest his brain had outgrown football.

What we know is Plummer in March 2004 signed a five-year, $25-million deal to remain with the 49ers, that he sustained a neck/shoulder injury seven months later, an ankle injury a year after that. He descended from decent cornerback to practically invisible member of the roster.

Taking that into consideration, Plummer's retirement was a 20-month process.

He showed little zest for fighting through the aches and pains and rehabilitations that come with playing football for a living. He subsequently fell out of favor with his coaches.

But here's the thing: Plummer didn't seem to mind. He seemed indifferent — ambivalent? — to the prospects of his career. If he was going to be nudged to the margins of the squad, he was a bit too willing to let himself be nudged.

There was little defiance or resilience, few signs that Plummer was hell-bent to prove, as Jerry Rice used to say, "the fire still burns."

In hindsight, did anyone ever see any indication Plummer had any such flame for the game?

Ronnie Lott would have hated playing with him. Would have wanted to kick Plummer's butt. Might have done it just to prove a point.

Plummer at his peak was a good cornerback, relying mostly on smarts and skill to reach that level. With a little more intensity, he might have been worthy of the Pro Bowl.

Taking that into consideration, Plummer's retirement might have been a 74-month process. It's as if he took six years pondering the depths of his desire before concluding it wasn't all that deep.

Not that he was a bad guy. To the contrary, Plummer was a young man of whom any father could be proud. Thoughtful and erudite, his perspective on life put football in its place.

Which brings us back to the 49ers, who took Plummer 24th overall, eight places behind linebacker/utility defender Julian Peterson, in what was viewed as the key draft to rebuilding the team's defense.

Peterson was an instant hit. Plummer became the first Niners rookie to start at cornerback since Merton Hanks in 1991. The second-round picks, defensive end John Engelberger and cornerback Jason Webster, could play. So could a linebacker named Jeff Ulbrich, taken in the fourth-round.

Only Ulbrich remains with the 49ers. Plummer was the only one of the other four not deemed worthy of being poached by another organization. He was the one the Niners re-signed. And he is the only one to give up on the NFL.

The 2000 draft was the 49ers' latest attempt to recreate the events of April 28, 1981, when they caught lightning in a bottle — Ronnie Lott in the first round, Eric Wright in the second, Carlton Williamson in the third. In the time it takes to bake a cake, the Niners built a terrific secondary.

They saw Plummer's measurables and pedigree and imagined he would anchor the secondary for a decade. They hoped he would bring some of the voltage Lott had brought 19 years earlier.

The Niners needed Plummer to be great, wanted him to be great. Their mistake was in not realizing their desires exceeded those of Plummer.


May 6, 2006
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North Yorkshire, UK
Monte Poole wrote:

"In hindsight, did anyone ever see any indication Plummer had any such flame for the game?"

Ah! Good old 20:20 hindsight! :doh:

Now, foresight - that's a prized commodity :)


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