The San Francisco 49ers are one of the younger teams in the league, but that doesn’t mean they are lacking in veteran leadership. They have cornerback Richard Sherman helping out on the secondary and left tackle Joe Staley continuing to play at a high level on the offensive line. This is rather impressive on it’s own, but it’s made more so by the fact Staley is over 35 years of age.
The folks over at Pro Football Focus put together a top-10 list of the best players over 35. While it’s top-10 in name, there wasn’t necessarily a ranking of players in the actual list. 35 is the age typical of when you see players entering the twilight of their career. Given that Staley has no sign of slowing down, he’s made the list:
“Turning 35 years old in late August, Staley will retire as one of the best tackles to ever play in the NFL. He’s been the epitome of consistency for the offensive tackle position, earning 81.0-plus overall grades in each of the past seven seasons. He’s also avoided significant injury over the seven-year stretch, playing 840 or more offensive snaps in each season. All signs point to Staley and second-year offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey being one of the NFL’s top tackle duos for however many more years Staley takes the field.”
It’s worth noting that former 49ers running back Frank Gore also made that list. It’s fair to say while Staley has a few years left, Gore’s career may outlive our lives.
At one point, Staley was thinking of retiring, only to get talked out of it by Kyle Shanahan and return. It’s been suggested the 49ers will need to get a replacement ready to go for when Staley decides it’s time to hang it up, but at the rate he’s going that decision may be further off than anticipated.