Borland attended Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio, where he was first-team All-state and All-conference player of the year. He was the team captain and MVP. He was a letterman in football, track, basketball and tennis. As a senior, he had 72 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries on defense, and rushed for 1,230 yards and 19 touchdowns on offense.
In track & field, he was one of the state's top performers in the shot put. He placed fifth at the state meet in the shot put as a junior. At the 2008 Fairmont Firebird Invitational, he recorded a PR of 11.97 seconds in the 100 meters. He got a top-throw of 41.05 meters in the discus at the 2008 OHSAA District T&F Championships. He was the runner-up to the state title in the shot put event at the 2009 OHSAA District T&F Championships, recording a career-best throw of 18.62 metres (61.1 ft).
Regarded as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, he was ranked the No. 55 linebacker nationally. He chose Wisconsin over scholarship offers from Iowa and Louisville.
Borland played in 13 games, starting six. He led the team with five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He finished third on the team in tackles-for-loss (10.5) and sacks (5.0) and fifth in tackles (54). Borland also returned six kickoffs for 106 yards and made three extra points in the game against Hawaii. Borland was named the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year in 2009. He was also named to the FWAA Freshman All-American team.
Borland played and started two games. He was injured in the second game of the season and missed the rest of the year with a shoulder injury. He was granted an injury redshirt for that season.
Before the season, Borland was on the watchlist for the Butkus Award which is awarded to the nations best linebacker. Borland was also listed on the preseason watchlists for All-Big Ten, first-team by Phil Steele and second-team by Athlon.
On December 8, 2011, Borland was named Third Team All-American by Yahoo Sports. Borland's teammate Russell Wilson joined him on the Third Team while Montee Ball was named to the First Team and offensive linemen Peter Konz and Kevin Zeitler were named to the Second Team.
Borland set a season high with 13 tackles in the 2012 Big Ten Football Championship Game against Nebraska. Borland recorded a team-high 9 tackles in the 2013 Rose Bowl against Stanford. Following the season, Borland was named first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and honorable mention by the media.
Borland was named to the preseason watchlists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Dick Butkus Award, Lombardi Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy. Halfway through the 2013 season ESPN ranked Chris Borland the #4 Defensive MVP.
On November 23, Borland tied the FBS career forced fumble record, with his 14th, against Minnesota. Also in late November, Borland was named one of four finalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. Other finalists include Anthony Barr (UCLA linebacker), Devon Kennard (USC defensive end) and James Morris (Iowa linebacker).
On December 3, 2013, Borland was named Big Ten Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year Borland is the fifth Wisconsin player to be named Defensive Player of the Year, joining Troy Vincent (1991), Tom Burke (1998), Jamar Fletcher (2000) and Erasmus James (2004). Borland was also named the Big Ten's Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year.
On December 18, 2013, Borland was named to the first-team All-America Team by FWAA. He also earned second-team All-America honors by the AP, Athlon, CBS Sports, and Sports Illustrated.
Borland was selected with the 13th pick of the 3rd round (77th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Throughout training camp and preseason Borland competed against 49ers veteran Michael Wilhoite for a starting inside linebacker position left absent by the injured NaVorro Bowman.
In the last preseason game against the Houston Texans, Borland led the defense in tackles (6) and returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown.
Borland got his first career start in Week 7 against the Denver Broncos after the 49ers All-Pro ILB Patrick Willis injured his toe against the St. Louis Rams during week six. Borland led the 49ers defense with eight tackles, one tackle for loss and he recorded his first career sack against Peyton Manning; ultimately the 49ers were defeated 42-17. In his second start filling in for Willis, Borland recorded 18 tackles, 15 solo and three tackles for loss against the St. Louis Rams. His 18 tackles were the most tackles for a single player league-wide and included a "suplex-like" tackle of runningback Tre Mason.
In a week 10 matchup against the New Orleans Saints, Borland recovered an overtime fumble that led the 49ers to a 27-24 victory. During the game Borland recorded 17 tackles and he received his first ever NFL award, which was Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week. In week 11 he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Eli Manning-led New York Giants where he was the first rookie linebacker in franchise history to get two interceptions in one game. He also led the team in tackles with 13 and had three passes defended. Borland was selected as the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. On December 20, 2014, Borland was placed on season ending IR with an ankle injury. Borland finished his rookie season with 108 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 interceptions in only starting 8 games.
On March 16, 2015, Borland announced his retirement from the NFL citing concern of head trauma. Borland received a $617,436 signing bonus when he inked a four-year rookie deal with the 49ers coming out of college. Borland stated he would be returning approximately three-quarters of this bonus to the team, or about $463,077.
SourceDefensive Rookie of the Month (November 2014)
NFC Defensive Player of the Week (Week 11, 2014)
Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week (Weeks 10 & 11, 2014)
First-team All-America Team - FWAA (2013)
3× First-team All-Big Ten (2011, 2012, 2013)
Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (2013)
Big Ten Linebacker of the Year (2013)
Third Team All-American - Yahoo Sports (2011)
Big Ten Freshman of the Year (2009)
FWAA Freshman All-America Team (2009)
Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (2009)
3× Big Ten Champion (2010, 2011, 2012)
Division I FBS most fumbles forced, career (14)
4× Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week (Weeks 10 & 12 - 2011, Week 4 - 2012, Week 11 2013)
Big Ten Conference Outstanding Sportsmanship Award (2014)
UW Student-Athlete of the Year (2014)
Borland attended the premier of GridIron Gladiators movie directed by Todd Trigsted April 19, 2015 in Portland, Oregon Borland has been outspoken about his decision to retire. He has received both praise and criticism for his assertions in many interviews, including one with CBS News in which he stated that he believes football as a whole to be "inherently dangerous".