Joe Staley, a fan favorite, has now missed nine games this season because of injuries. The San Francisco 49ers veteran tackle has started 16 games in six of the last eight seasons and at least 13 games each year since 2011. With just three starts this season, he won't come anywhere close to that mark in 2019.

Staley, who is in his 13th NFL season but is still widely considered one of the best tackles in the game, missed six games after fracturing his fibula during Week 2. He returned during Week 10 but fractured a finger and had to undergo surgery.

Now, Staley is trying to return from that latest setback in what has been an uncharacteristically injury-plagued season.

The tackle was asked how he feels physically now compared to before his injuries.

"A lot better," the offensive lineman responded. "Yeah, a lot better. I can't really add anything. I just feel better. I'm trying to add some just filler words in there, but yeah, I feel better.

"The leg feels better and just stronger. The back is feeling good. The finger is feeling better."

Staley admits that being sidelined for so many weeks has been difficult.

"It's just one day at a time to try to keep yourself mentally into it," Staley added. "Then coming back to the Seattle game and body not feeling the way it did, and having the setback with the finger, and having to miss more games, it's been hard.

"I haven't really experienced it. You know, late in my career, I've been kind of waiting around for the team to be what it is right now, and just feeling like not a part of it. But the guys, the teammates, on the days that I've not been doing well, (were) keeping me up.

"We have a great coaching staff, and I'm ready to go and just take it one day at a time."

Second-year tackle Mike McGlinchey, and one of Staley's closest friends, discussed how the veteran offensive lineman has dealt with the injuries.

"He's done a great job," McGlinchey said. "He's been an absolute pro about everything. He's had a trying season, obviously physically, but he's stayed in it, he's stayed with us, he's helped out everywhere he can, and he's taken his rehab as seriously as you can.

"We're excited to have him healthy again, and hopefully, get back to his old self. Like I said, he's the leader of this football team, and he's been there every step of the way whether he's been in the lineup or not."

Some might think that the added rest might make Staley fresh for San Francisco's upcoming playoff push. The offensive lineman doesn't see it that way.

"You've got to be in football," Staley explained. "I missed out on two months of reps, two months of practices, two months of being on the details. I mean, that's what makes you good. It's not just saving yourself for the playoffs. So I missed out on a lot of work.

"Yeah, as far as the reps on the field, my body will be feeling a little better that way, but it's all about, every single day, getting those reps. I'm just excited to get back out there and start working."

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