Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.
For a little while there, nearer the beginning of his career, I was worried about left tackle Joe Staley. His first couple seasons were filled with mental slip-ups, with the "rookie mistakes" following him at least three seasons. He was never a bad tackle by any means, but he didn't overburden me with an abundance of confidence, we'll say.
Fortunately, Staley turned things around big time. He's been excellent the past few seasons, with the occasional bad game here and there, and of course, injuries. But he's been the most consistent player on the offensive line, even if I personally think he was surpassed in overall level of play by Alex Boone last season.
Staley finished 2014 with one reception for 14 yards and ... oh wait, I'm reading the wrong stats. As to what the numbers actually say in regards to his number of sacks allowed and all of that ... it's not many. We can make an assessment that he was personally responsible for allowing X amount of sacks, but I'm not sure there's a whole lot of value in that.
What we know is this: Staley didn't get beat a whole lot, he missed minimal time due to injuries, and he was incredibly effective as a pass blocker. As a run blocker, I think he's solid, but he's out-shined by both Boone and Mike Iupati in that area. There's not a whole lot to dislike about Staley's performance last season. He started all 16 games at left tackle, and shut down some of the best pass rushers in the game.
If you have NFL Rewind and you want to find a good game of his, check out the Week 11 matchup against the New Orleans Saints. I'd call his pass-blocking performance in that game near flawless. If you want to see him get some serious push in the running game, watch the Week 6 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Why he might improve:
The offense as a whole getting better could lead to Staley improving on the stat-sheet. Iupati struggled a bit off and on in 2013, and I could easily see Staley improving if Iupati bounces back. At 29 years old, Staley has several years ahead of him in the NFL, provided he can stay injury-free.
Why he might regress:
At the same time, everybody handles aging different. He'll turn 30 just before the regular season starts and who knows -- maybe he'll hit a wall and regress. It's also feasible to think he could struggle as the offense possibly looks to open up in the passing game, putting more pressure on him to keep Colin Kaepernick clean. The 49ers face some strong defenses in 2014-15, so even if he plays to the level he's been playing, we might see a technical regression on the stat sheet.
Odds of making the roster:
We'll return to the old standby: if Staley doesn't make the roster, it's because of aliens. His spot on the team and his spot on the depth chart are safe going forward. There were reports earlier in the offseason that the 49ers were trying to find some more money to give to Staley, who is underpaid at this point, and if that ever turned into him being unhappy, I think the 49ers are comfortable with Boone on the left side if need be. But something like that isn't going to come to a head in 2014.