San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is one of the best players on the team, and has long been a fan-favorite over his 11 seasons in the NFL and with the team. But the early-goings of the 2017 season were hard on him, so much so that he said he was considering retirement.
“I wasn’t coming into work with the same kind of enthusiasm that I usually come in with,” Staley said in a recent podcast with Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. “At that moment, it was like, ‘Oh man, is this how my career is going to end with my knee acting up and not playing well?’”
Staley said that he thought perhaps this past season or next season might be his last, as he wasn’t playing up to the level he expects of himself and he also wasn’t enjoying things as much. Add a few years of losing and massive instability for the 49ers, and it’s easy to see why he might be discouraged.
But Staley eventually found his enthusiasm again (and his level of play was elevated) after a long conversation with first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan, a man who is only five years Staley’s elder.
“He kind of really got my mind back on track,” Staley said. “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 edaling 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 this year.
The podcast is definitely worth a listen (as usual). Staley is always a guy that’s great to hear from, and is also one of the more “fun” characters in the 49ers locker room. Thinking about him being down in the dumps impacts me in a way that it wouldn’t for a lot of players on the roster.