Joe Staley yesterday announced his retirement after thirteen seasons with the San Fransisco 49ers. He released his retirement letter on social media after the 49ers traded for his replacement seven-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams. This gracious move, waiting until the 49ers had found his replacement. It will endure him to us 49ers fans even longer. His retirement comes after the 49ers reached the Super Bowl for the second time in his career.
“Last season was a dream to be a part of, having the opportunity to chase a Championship. But, it was by far the most difficult on me and my family,” Staley wrote in his retirement letter. “My body was breaking down with a variety of injuries and a deteriorating neck condition, and the constant discomfort affected every aspect of my life.” He now knows where his priorities are writing, “I have two young daughters, Grace and Audrey. They are my world. To choose to play another season when my body says it’s done, and risk my future with them and my ability to be the father I want to be would be selfish and reckless I want my daughters to know that I will always choose them, no matter what.”
In thirteen years, Staley started all 181 games in which he appeared in, reached six Pro Bowls, made second-team All-Pro three times and was named to the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team. Quite a career because as he mentioned on the Trench Warefare podcast, he was former University of Central Michigan tight end who put on 80 pounds, played tackle and never looked back. It was his consistency, work ethic and skill made him widely respected throughout the NFL. All the while having a mixed bag of head coaches from Kyle Shanahan to Jim Tomsula. It was after the 2016 season that he thought about retirement. Yet with Shanahan’s hiring Staley came back and played really well.
In Trent Williams, the 49ers have another former first-round pick, with multiple Pro Bowls and experience of Shanahan’s system. I believe he will get back to his best and give his new team everything he’s got. Now it is easier to welcome Williams than it is to say sayonara to Staley.
His loud, unapologetic, and funny personality made him a fan and locker room favourite. With his work on the self-titled ‘Joe Show’ for the 49ers being extremely entertaining. His love for the game and his teammates shone through, as George Kittle emotional video reacting to Staley’s retirement shows.
Now I believe Staley will make the 49ers Hall of Fame, and have his number retired. However, I doubt he’ll make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As a 49ers fan, I cannot be thankful enough to Joe Staley, and I hope he has a long and happy retirement.
Alex Riley is a 49ers fan who since 2010 has followed the NFL. He’s currently at the University of Leicester. You can find him on Twitter at @NFLRiley and his blog at www.rileynfl.wordpress.com