San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley has more than his fair share of memories with the franchise dating back to when the team selected him in Round 1 of the 2007 NFL Draft.

There were those frustrating early years, offset by his first trips into the playoffs between 2011 and 2014. There was a Super Bowl appearance, albeit on the losing side, following by the dissolution of a team going from perennial postseason contender to laughingstock in short order.

Now, following three years of the rebuild under general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan, Staley is back into the Super Bowl after the Niners pulled off a 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game at Levi's Stadium on Sunday. And in many ways, this edition of the 49ers is far different than any Staley had enjoyed in his previous seasons.

"There are no egos," Staley told reporters after the win. "Everybody genuinely pulls for each other. No one cares about what credit that they get."

In fact, the win over Green Bay epitomized that viewpoint. The 49ers ran for 285 yards, dominating the ground game, while letting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo pass just eight times. Naturally, the low pass numbers cut into most of San Francisco's pass catchers' stat lines. Tight end George Kittle had just one catch for 19 yards. But according to Staley, none of them cared about individual goals.

"Jimmy doesn't care if he throws for 300 yards or, what did he pass today for, 50 to 60? He doesn't care and same with the running backs," Staley continued. "Kittle is a superstar, and he could care less about his stats.

"Top to bottom, everybody just wants to pull for each other and win. It's just a special bunch."

Staley had some noticeable emotions when the 49ers clinched both the NFC West and No. 1 seed in the conference back in Week 17, beating the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field for the first time since 2011. That victory helped ensure the Niners could hold onto home-field advantage, earning the right to host the NFC Championship game at Levi's Stadium.

"It was incredible," Staley's linemate and close friend, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, added after the game. "The Faithful have been showing up all year. They have proven once we put something good in front of them, they are some of the best fans in the NFL. Today was even more so. It was incredible from start to finish."

Staley certainly took in a lot of the crowd noise, too, having seen both the highs and lows stemming back from his rookie 2007 season.

And he'll have a chance to see yet another Super Bowl, hopefully this time on the winning end of one.
  • Peter Panacy
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.