Ex-49ers standout cornerback Plummer to retire

Plagued by injuries that limited him to just nine appearances the past two seasons, and garnering only scant interest in the unrestricted free agent market, former San Francisco 49ers standout cornerback Ahmed Plummer has decided to retire from the NFL at age 30.

The six-year veteran was a first-round selection in the 2000 draft and the 24th player chosen overall that spring, but was released by San Francisco in late February this year for salary cap considerations, and because the 49ers' coaches had lost faith in him.

Plummer spent part of the spring in Hawaii, rehabilitating from an ankle injury that required surgery early in the 2005 season, but was still not 100 percent recovered. He received inquiries from a few franchises and visited with Tennessee Titans officials, but was not offered a contract.

His decision to retire culminates a sharp slide for Plummer, who only three years ago was regarded around the league as an excellent coverage defender and an ascending player. In his first four seasons, the former Ohio State star missed only three games, and he posted seven interceptions in 2001.

In March 2004, with the cornerback market exploding in free agency, the 49ers rewarded Plummer with a five-year, $25 million contract extension to retain his services. The deal included $11 million in guarantees. But that season, Plummer suffered neck and shoulder injuries and appeared in just six games. Last season, he underwent September ankle surgery and played in only three contests.

The new coaching staff, led by Mike Nolan, lost faith in Plummer, and there were suggestions from inside the San Francisco organization that the veteran corner wasn't as diligent as he could have been in trying to get back onto the field. Plummer bristled at those contentions. But even some teams curious about Plummer this spring questioned whether he still wanted to play.

In 70 regular-season appearances, Plummer recorded 316 tackles, 12 interceptions, 57 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one recovery.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.