"This season coming up, I've never been more excited for a football season to get here," said San Francisco 49ers tackle Joe Staley during last week's State of the Franchise event.

That's high praise from the veteran offensive lineman who is entering his 12th NFL season and from a player who, at one point last season, questioned how much longer he wanted to play. Staley, who is a locker room jokester, is embracing his future with the team and his role as a mentor to younger players like rookie tackle Mike McGlinchey.

Much has been said of the close-knit locker room in Santa Clara. The relationships between the 49ers players have been compared to college locker rooms. All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman was used to that attitude during his time with the Seattle Seahawks. He has been working with his new defensive backs group to create the same type of bond he experienced in Seattle while also serving as a mentor for many of the younger players.

Fiery kicker Robbie Gould is among the most unique personalities in the 49ers locker room. He can go from joking around to passionately yelling at teammates faster than a Marquise Goodwin 40-yard dash.

"He does a phenomenal job as the disciplinarian of the team," Sherman said of Gould last week. "We had the Navy SEALs come, and Robbie was like ..."

"The angry kicker," Staley said to complete Sherman's sentence.

Gould spent 11 seasons with the Chicago Bears and one with the New York Giants before signing with San Francisco as a free agent last year.

"This is probably the best locker room in my 14-year career that I've ever been a part of," Gould said last week. "But I think there's a lot to that. You have guys who are crazy, outgoing, over the top like Joe (Staley) that will literally just start singing in the middle of the training room."

"Sherman will be over in practice hanging out with the kickers, coaching them how to kick," Gould jokingly continued. "Then you've got [DeForest Bucker] who will hop on the ping pong table and play against the specialists. And then [Kyle Juszczyk] is probably just doing bicep curls somewhere, push-ups, sit-ups.

"But in all reality, though, it has a lot to do with the culture that's being built here. There are two guys, Kyle (Shanahan) and John (Lynch), that have done a great job of bringing in the right people and that's what it's about."

Being the "new guy" on a team can be tough. You have to get used to new procedures and the new faces around you. If you have a good locker room, however, the transition of switching NFL teams is made easier. Just ask center Weston Richburg, who signed with the 49ers in March after spending his first four NFL seasons with the New York Giants.

"I can't speak for every other place because I've only been in one other place," Richburg said last week. "It's hard to replicate that kind of college comradery because it is a business. It really is. But I think they do a good job of stressing that here, and the guys were very friendly, and they welcomed me and the new guys in pretty nicely ... It starts with intention, but it just comes natural with kind of the atmosphere that they created since they've been here.

"When I came in, it was maybe a couple of days you were kind of unsure how things were going to go, but everybody was super friendly (and) super welcoming. It makes it easy for me to come in and pick up right where they left off."

Rookie linebacker Fred Warner made the transition from the college ranks to the NFL, which can normally be difficult for young players.

"It's kind of crazy because, in college, you build that brotherhood and just from what you hear, you don't really think that the NFL is going to be the same because there's a lot of other things involved besides just football," Warner said. "But these guys, they're huge in that family-based brotherhood type of style.

"Like the coaches were saying, they all hold the team to a very high standard, and they've created a culture of competition and just having fun doing it. So we've been thrown into that, and we're embracing it."