Joe Staley still has a hunger to continue playing football. His decision to retire had nothing to do with that. It had everything to do with his health, future, and family.

The former San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle doesn't sound like he regrets the choice, and is already looking forward to life after football. First, that means resting and recovering from an injury-plagued final season.

Staley didn't come to a decision easily. He started kicking around the idea of calling it a career immediately after the crushing Super Bowl defeat in February—the second of his career. In fact, he was contemplating his future the morning after the game, as the team started its trek from Miami back to the Bay Area.

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk spoke with reporters via a video conference call on Tuesday and was asked to share one of his favorite memories of his former teammate. The story he shared was a testament to Staley's competitiveness and strong desire to continue playing.

"I think one of my favorite memories is probably right after the Super Bowl," Juszczyk said. "He was contemplating his retirement. I think it was in the morning, we were on the bus ride to the airport, and he says, 'Guys, I think I'm going to retire.'

"I'm like, 'Come on, Joe, we still need you, man. Let's get another year.' He said, 'Yeah, I think I'm going to retire.'

"Ten minutes go by, he's like, 'Yeah, guys, I don't know, I'm 50-50. I've just got to think about it.' Another 10 minutes pass. 'Yeah, I think I might come back. I might come back. Let's just give it some more time.'

"And by the time we got to the airplane, he's like, 'I'm coming back! I got to play! I got to play!'"

Nearly three months later, Staley did retire. The decision came after a visit with a specialist, Dr. Robert G. Watkins in Los Angeles, informed him of the potential long-term effects should he choose to continue playing.

"I had herniations at a bunch of different levels and really severe stenosis," Staley shared earlier this month. "... He was like, 'If you're going to continue to play football, you're probably going to have to have fusion surgery on multiple levels.'"

While Juszczyk was left with the impression that Staley would play in his 14th NFL season, it wasn't meant to be.

"Obviously things didn't turn out that way, but you could just see the wheels turning in his head, and what a competitor he was," Juszczyk continued, "and how much he really did love the game. I know under perfect conditions, I'm sure he'd still like to be out here with us. But Joe will have a lasting impression on me and I'm really happy to have played with him as a teammate."

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