When the Niners took the 101 South down to Los Angeles for joint practices and a preseason game this upcoming Sunday against the Chargers, we expected to see one Coach Staley patrolling the sidelines.
On the opposing side, Brandon Staley would be best known to Niner fans as the wunderkind defensive coordinator of the 2020-21 Los Angeles Rams, who now enters his first season at the helm of the Bolts.
Even better known to the Faithful will be the second Staley that popped up during the course of these training camp scrimmages. Joe Staley, who’s a Southern California resident, has been on hand volunteering in a coaching capacity for the past two days.
His time with the team that he recently retired from has included hanging with current LT Trent Williams, taking snaps at quarterback in offensive line drills, and demonstrating good blocking technique on Laken Tomlinson.
I spy 49ers legend Joe Staley talking to Trent Williams.— Niners Nation (@NinersNation) August 19, 2021
Staley looks like he could play a little TE. pic.twitter.com/cLRBh2kSdb
A former player dropping by practice wouldn’t necessarily cause much of a stir, but Joe Staley is no normal former player.
His spot in the Ring of Honor was cemented the day he executed one final pancake block, springing Trent Williams to fill the hole he left behind with his retirement. But, before that, he demonstrated supreme athleticism, notched six Pro-Bowls visits, and charmed everyone with his larger-than-life personality for over ten memorable seasons, plus many episodes of The Joe Show. As a result, he’s highlighted in one of the most famous Niner highlights of this century.
Staley bridged the gap between the Harbaugh Super Bowl team and the Shanahan run while remaining a bright spot during the darkest of dark times in between. In fact, Staley was so beloved by the 2019 team that he selflessly stepped forward and requested that other players not use his quest for a ring as motivation. Instead, he preferred everyone approach their ambitions of winning a Super Bowl as a team-oriented goal. That’s how you become a legend.
Obviously, with all this love for Joe from his former teammates and fans alike, his presence raised a lot of questions regarding his current and future involvement with the coaching staff. Especially since the unfortunate feeling of unfinished business hangs over his sterling legacy, and a chance to rectify that, even as a coach, is an enticing proposition. It would serve as the righting of some horrible, cosmic injustice that, in some small way, restores balance to the universe.
Kyle Shanahan, who you might recognize as the star of a video that featured Staley and a pizza oven, was asked about the possibility of his former player transitioning to coach.
“He’s going to be here this week. He lives pretty close to here so he just wanted to come up with the week and try to see what coaching is about. And I know he’s got a passion for it and I know he wants to be around football. He wants to he decide if he wants to work this many hours before he jumps into it with his family. So, he’ll get a look at that this week.”
There’s just enough information here to get people’s imaginations off to the races. Shanahan points out Staley still has a love for football, as evidenced by his pre-draft work with rookies Dillon Radunz and Sam Cosmi, and that he’s specifically there to give the gig a test drive.
However, he notes Joe’s remained resolute that he wants to step away long enough to enjoy some time with his wife and daughters.
No matter what comes of this, it’s great to have Joe Staley back around the team and the dream of him one day winning a Super Bowl as a 49er alive and well.