Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Joe Staley discusses the neck injury that led to retirement

May 5, 2020 at 11:23 AM--

In the end, Joe Staley chose his health and family over trying to get through another season or two. It wasn't a simple decision for the San Francisco 49ers tackle, who, after 13 seasons, still loved the game. But after a season filled is injury and discomfort, it became clear that it was time.

Staley spent time last season recovering from a fractured fibula and broken finger, but it was a late-season neck injury that concerned him the most and forced the difficult decision.

Staley recently joined Adam Schefter of ESPN on his podcast and shared how the latest injury, one that plagued him through the final games of the regular season, playoffs, and into the Super Bowl, led him to choose retirement.

Staley shared that injury is just part of the game, and he dealt with, and even played through, many over his lengthy career.

"I started noticing different ailments with my neck and kind of like my posterior chain, upper back, just kind of feeling out of alignment, just feeling a little bit weird," Staley told Schefter. "I started getting some stingers a little bit more than I've ever had in my career.

"But this is what I've been waiting for my whole career, last season, the chance to go to the playoffs, we being so bad for so long, make a playoff run, go to the Super Bowl. I think the ailments just started compiling a little bit, but it was something I could manage and something I could play through, so I wasn't really thinking too much about I've got to get this figured out. I've got to look at it.

"I was just doing my daily treatments, trying to manage it as best as I could, and eliminate the hits as much as I could during the practices and whatnot."

It was a discussion about a month after the Super Bowl with a specialist, Dr. Robert G. Watkins in Los Angeles, that really started to make Staley lean toward retirement. After a discussion that lasted four or five hours, the offensive lineman started to realize that the situation was more serious than he initially thought.

Staley had hoped that just a couple of months away from football, paired with some rest, would help immensely. Watkins, however, was concerned about Staley's age and other factors.

But it wasn't just this latest injury that influenced the offensive lineman's decision, but the accumulation of a 13-year NFL career full of hard hits, strain, and injuries.

"You put your body through a lot, especially playing offensive line for as long as I have," Staley added. "The stresses too that you put your family through when dealing with all that, I just thought it was a good time."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Staley below.

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