San Francisco 49ers tackle Joe Staley is "excited" to be back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2013 season. That's the word he repeatedly used on Tuesday while speaking with reporters.

"Excited to get back in the playoffs and play meaningful football," Staley said. "And I'm excited for the opportunity this week. A big game (against the Vikings), and just excited. I don't really know what else to say. Just excited for the opportunity."

Staley suffered through some dark seasons before the arrival of Jim Harbaugh, and then again before the arrival of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. Learning that he would have to sit through another rebuild after coming off of a two-win season could have been disheartening, but Staley had a lot of faith in the new regime and its plan.

"Once I met Kyle and John, and the vision they had for the franchise, I was pretty confident that we were going to get there," Staley continued. "And I was just happy that I still was feeling the way I felt, and still had years left to play, and was going to be able to see this through."

Staley has been with the 49ers since the team made him a first-round draft pick in 2007. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's time with San Francisco is significantly shorter. He joined the 49ers via a mid-season trade in 2017 but knows what this season's run means to his veteran offensive lineman.

"You could really see it after the Seattle game, how much it meant to everybody," Garoppolo said. "But Joe, he's been through the ups and downs of this whole organization. So the win in Seattle is a big one, and we just want to keep this thing rolling for him."

Staley missed several games while dealing with multiple injuries this season but is feeling healthy entering the playoffs. Thoughts of retirement are not in his head right now. The offensive lineman is focused on the task at hand.

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders joined the 49ers in October. His locker sits next to Staley's, and the two have gotten to know each other pretty well over the last few months.

A deep respect has grown during that time.

"He's a great teammate," Sanders said. "I enjoy playing with him. When I first got here, he was battling so many injuries. He came back (from a fractured fibula). Then he had the hand (injury). He's the definition of resilient.

"To have a long career like he's had, it's been extraordinary. He's a guy, I'm ten years in the league, but I look up to because I want to be where he's at, at some point in [my] career. What a great guy."