Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports



San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley is among the players left over from the previous regime who is having fun again. Over the course of the past three seasons, you could tell that players struggled to keep their morale up in the midst of constant losing. Staley was one of those guys.

This year, the atmosphere in Santa Clara has changed for the better. Last week, Staley expressed how different things are under the new coaching regime than they were in previous seasons.

"This might sound kind of bad, but I'm enjoying football again," Staley said while talking to Bay Area media last week. "I'm excited to come to work every single day. The last couple of years, there were days when I couldn't honestly say that. That's awesome to have that feeling back."

Much of that excitement is because of new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who has impressed Staley with his knowledge.

"You really, really respect him just because of the overall understanding and knowledge that he has of the game," Staley said. "I can't stress that enough. He's one of...he's the smartest coach I've been around."

However, Staley knows to temper his expectations. The team is coming off of a two-win season and there are a lot of new faces on the roster who are all learning a new and complex system. Even Shanahan has said that, while he wants to win now, it makes little sense to sacrifice the future in order to have limited success now.

"I think when you have leadership like that, you have to raise your game," Staley said. "And you know that you have to be exactly on your assignments and techniques because he leaves no stone unturned. It's not going to be a situation where, 'Hey man, Coach has never covered that.' Well, yeah, they did because they'll cover everything and they expect every single person to know it and hold themselves to the same standard."

The five-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman is not ready to make any predictions on the upcoming season or how long it will take the 49ers to turn a corner.

"I'm not concerned with how long a rebuild or all that stuff," Staley said. "All I know is that last year, we were a 2-14 team and like I said at the beginning of the offseason, we have got a long way to go to get to where we want to be. We've got to take it one day at a time. We can't look at it like, 'Hey, we're going to do this and this and this. We're going to have an 8-8 year this year and a 10-6 year next year and the year after that, we'll be ready to go.' We just got to take it one day at a time.

"We just finished up the offseason program. I thought we made a lot of progress offensively and defensively. And as far as just learning the schemes, learning what's required of us, we'll carry that into training camp."

Staley pointed out that there are a lot more "football guys" on the roster than in previous seasons.

"A lot of guys that just have the right mentality of just coming in every day, working, grinding, putting in that work," Staley said of the new faces on the team.



The change in attitude is not just felt by the players, but those working for the team as well.

"Everything has felt like it's a step in the right direction," 49ers.com Senior Writer Joe Fann said on our latest No Huddle podcast. "And again, it's the honeymoon period of the new team. You don't know how things are going to go, how players and coaches and front office is going to respond to a couple of losses in a row. Only time will tell in that regard but I've been positive."

Fann has noticed the amount of respect that 49ers players hold for their new head coach.

"I think, overall, there is just so much respect for Kyle Shanahan," Fann said. "You hear players talk about him and it's like they're in awe of his mind...Like Joe Staley was saying, he not only tells you what your job is but he tells you why it's your job and why it's important to this play and I think that has resonated a lot with players."