In 2017, 49ers’ left tackle Joe Staley had a fine season. The 33-year-old was ranked by the analytic website Pro Football Focus as the No. 2 offensive tackle in the NFL, and Staley was the unquestioned leader of a line that helped protect quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo during San Francisco’s five-game winning streak to close the season.
Now the 49ers have rewarded Staley with a reworked contract that shows their faith in him and is an indication how important he is to the team’s growth over the next two seasons.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday that the Niners have altered the final two years of Staley’s contract to give him a big pay boost. Staley was due to make $4.8 million in each of the final two years of his deal (2018 and 2019), reports Barrows, but will get $6.5 million more over those years. Staley can now earn as much as $17.4 million over the next two seasons, including bonuses, according to Barrows.
It’s a big turnaround for both the 49ers and Staley.
Last October, there was speculation the 49ers were listening to trade offers for their left tackle. As the trade deadline approached, the 49ers were 0-7 with little hope that a turnaround was near. The team already had released another longtime prime performer in linebacker NaVorro Bowman, and Staley was seen as a great-value trading chip.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan, however, didn’t have his heart in it. Even in the short time he’d been with the 49ers, Shanahan said he’d come to value Staley’s contributions.
“Joe is a guy that I definitely want here and definitely a guy I wouldn’t want to lose by any means,” Shanahan told reporters. “(But) if anybody called for any one of our players, it’s not like you just hang up the phone. If people want to offer the world, you’ve always got to listen.”
Soon after, however, the 49ers had a new quarterback in Garoppolo. When Garoppolo was given the starting job, the 49ers took off – and Staley became enthusiastic about staying with the only team he’s played for. After some down years, Staley was re-energized.
Said Staley: “The energy is back in the building.”
Now Staley will stay in that building – and on the left side of the offensive line – for at least two more years.