Joe Staley is 33 and just completed his 11th season in the NFL. He’s played 158 games and been a rock for the 49ers at left tackle through the good times (under Jim Harbaugh) and bad (almost every other season).
Yet as the 49ers look toward 2018, Staley looks like a piece to build around rather than replace. Staley this season was named to Pro Football Focus’ All-Pro team (second team), ranking second only to David Bakhtiari of the Green Bay Packers. He also had the third-highest pass-blocking efficiency rating of any offensive tackle, according to PFF.
And, Staley is eager and excited about his future with the 49ers.
That’s great news for a franchise that now believes it’s ready to compete in the NFC West in 2018 with a few additions in key spots.
With Jimmy Garoppolo now at quarterback and a great young cast starting to set the foundation for the future – including Reuben Foster, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and George Kittle – Staley is happy to be a part of the franchise re-build.
The 49ers started out 0-9 under first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan, but then went a remarkable 5-1 to finish at 6-10.
“I’m pretty amped up about where we’re at and what we’re building,” he told Joe Fann of the team’s website recently. “The last few years have been really hard for me – being with one team and feeling like my career is coming to an end. This season has definitely rejuvenated me and I can feel that excitement again. What we’re building here is something special, and you’re seeing that come to fruition.”
Recently, too, Staley told reporter Matt Maiocco (on a podcast) that he was considering retirement early in the 2017 season but was convinced by Shanahan that there were better days ahead for him and the team. Staley said injuries and losing left him without the enthusiasm he’d always had before. But, once he and Shanahan had their talk, he felt optimistic again.
“He kind of really got my mind back on track,” said Staley. “We had a good conversation. We talked for probably about an hour, got me refocused and all that. It was beneficial for me and that speaks to the kind of person he is – to be about to sit down with a guy that’s older and dealing with stuff as a first-time head coach and be able to really sit down and get me refocused. It was a big help to me.”
Staley is signed through the 2019 season.