Joe Staley is saying goodbye. According to NFL insider Adam Schefter, the San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle is slated to retire after 13 seasons with the team.
Staley was drafted by the 49ers in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He has started 181 games in his 13 years with the team, and despite the recent acquisition of All-Pro tackle Trent Williams, the 49ers are absolutely going to miss his presence, fierceness and veteran savvy on the line.
Less than a week ago, 49ers GM John Lynch seemed to think there was a good chance Staley could return to San Francisco for one more year. “We’ve kept in good contact with Joe,” Lynch said just last week. “He’s doing his typical routine down with his family in San Diego working out. We’re encouraged. We’ve heard nothing that would lead us to believe that Joe’s not going to play. We’re encouraged with that and we’ll see where that goes. That is something with each and every player, particularly as they get closer. You give them that time that they need. But we are encouraged that Joe is going to be a part of us moving forward.”
Unfortunately, it looks as though Staley has decided to retire due to, as Schefter noted, “health concerns.”
Staley dealt with finger and fibula injuries in 2019, starting just seven games all season, and he had some issues with his knee in 2018. He also injured his thumb in Super Bowl LIV. Staley turns 36-years old this August, and his retirement led to the team contacting the Redskins in order to trade for Trent Williams.
Will Trent Williams Be a Solid Replacement for Joe Staley?
Staley is a fan favorite in San Francisco, and after 13 years with the Niners, the team and its fans are going to miss him in a big way. Williams, also a veteran with an All-Pro pedigree, is about the best replacement the team could find for Staley — but the 49ers are still absolutely going to miss his toughness on the field and his fun-loving presence off it.
Williams turns 32 in July, and he has also dealt with his fair share of relatively recent ailments. He didn’t play at all last season, after he said the Redskins misdiagnosed a cancerous growth on his brain in early 2019. He also had a knee injury that required surgery at the end of the 2017 season.
After the 49ers’ loss to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, many thought and hoped Staley would give it one more season. 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey said after that loss that he and his peers looked to Staley as a role model career-wise. “To not only get to 13 years, but still play at a dominant level at year 13, that’s the goal,” McGlinchey said. “He’s the standard and he’s been the standard for everybody in the modern era of offensive linemen. He’s somebody that I’ve wanted to be like since I was in high school.”