Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Staley not thinking retirement, knows 49ers can do something special

Dec 12, 2019 at 9:05 AM--

Joe Staley has been waiting a long time for this. He was part of a Super Bowl squad during the 2012 season, and now, seven years later, his San Francisco 49ers have a chance to do something special again.

Staley has seen many faces come and go since that last championship run. That includes players, coaches, front office personnel, staff, among others. Even as the 49ers struggled to find their path, Staley remained committed to the team.

This year is different. This team is different. Staley knew that early on. That's why dealing with injuries this season has been especially difficult for the 13-year veteran. Staley, who joined 95.7 The Game on Wednesday, didn't want to miss out on being a part of something special.

"When I broke my leg in Week 2, I was super emotional when I was in the locker room," Staley explained to Damon Bruce, Ray Ratto, and Matt Kolsky. "I was definitely bummed about the leg break, but I was super emotional because I knew how special this team was, at that time, and how rare this team (is) that we have this year, and the kind of guys, and the character — just everything.

"It's not just the talent, but it's everything that we have built here. How special it was then, and it turned out to be throughout the season. I was emotional about having to miss games and not be a part of that. So it's been a really fun year to watch, and really excited to be back there on the field with everybody."

The fractured fibula wasn't the only injury Staley endured this season. He finally returned during Week 10 only to suffer a fractured finger in that game against the Seattle Seahawks. Staley returned on Sunday for the 49ers' dramatic 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints, and it's a game he'll remember for a long time.

Any other year, injuries like the ones Staley has fought through might have him thinking about life after football. In fact, he contemplated retirement in 2017 while dealing with a knee injury and the 49ers struggling merely to win a game. It took an hour-long conversation with head coach Kyle Shanahan to change his mind.

Staley was asked how much more he has left in the tank. It turns out that he hasn't thought about post-football life for some time.

"I like to think that I'll continue to play football as long as they'll have me," Staley shared. "That's my mindset. I never thought about when an end is going to be. I'm enjoying this season, I'm enjoying the weekly grind and getting myself back, the challenges of this season being different than seasons past.

"I love the adverse situations, and you kind of learn a lot about yourself and how you respond. You challenge yourself daily with different goals, and it's still incredibly exciting.

"That feeling we had on Sunday is nothing that I'll ever be able to replace in my whole entire life, and that gets me motivated. That love for the game is still there burning."

Then Staley thought for a moment about the original question and how to answer it.

"I don't have an answer for you," Staley concluded.

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