Joe Staley: Niners are Energized, Excited by Shanahan

Veteran Pro Bowl offensive tackle says new head coach is making football fun again for a team that has struggled in recent seasons

On a team with few, true stars, Joe Staley stands out.

The veteran All-Pro left offensive tackle has been one of the rare threads still binding multiple eras of 49ers football. He arrived in 2007 to join a struggling team, was part of the winning seasons under Jim Harbaugh and then has toiled through the difficult Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly tenures the past two seasons.

Now the five-time Pro Bowler, 32, is pumped up as he hasn’t been for a long while under the leadership of new head coach Kyle Shanahan.  On Wednesday, in the midst of the 49ers’ mandatory three-day, full-squad minicamp, Staley was eager to talk about the new regime and the energy he’s feeling again.

Shanahan is getting a chance to rebuild the offense after having success as an offensive coordinator for the NFC-champion Falcons in 2016, and Staley likes what he’s seeing and hearing.

“This might sound kind of bad, but I’m enjoying football again,” said Staley. “I’m excited to come to work every single day. You really, really respect him just because of the overall understanding and knowledge that he has. I can’t stress that enough. He’s the smartest coach I’ve been around.”

Staley has told reporters that he and his teammates are loving the fact that Shanahan and his coaching staff are taking the time to explain the offense in detail, including the principles behind plays and schemes. He also praises how Shanahan deals with every player on the roster.

“He speaks very openly and honestly with everybody,” Staley said. “He’s done that from Day 1 and guys really respect that. He calls out myself and (linebacker NaVorro) Bowman the same way he calls out a rookie free agent. He expects the same out of all of us.”

As Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle noted, Staley’s only wish is that Shanahan had arrived much earlier in his career.

“I’m so excited,” Staley told Branch. “I’m just kind of bummed that it’s happening in Year 11 instead of Year 4 or 3 or 1.”

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