Joe Staley: 49ers' first win 'felt just as good as winning NFC championship'

Joe Staley: 49ers' first win 'felt just as good as winning NFC championship'

It's been a while since the 49ers won a game that counted, so you'll have to forgive them for their boisterous celebration.

But for one long-time 49er, the feeling after the 31-21 win over the Giants on Sunday compares to the biggest win of his career.

"In the 11 years I've been here, this win felt just as good as winning the NFC championship," left tackle Joe Staley told reporters after the game.

Staley, drafted by the 49ers in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft, was a member of the 2012 49ers that beat the Falcons in the 2013 NFC Championship game to advance to Super Bowl XLVII.

"It was unbelievable because I know how close this team is, you know, on the outside looking in, an 0-9 record coming into today's game, young team, everybody just doesn't see what we see in the locker room. I understand how close we are. No one has ever wavered, no one has ever pointed fingers. We've all just buckled down and that's a tribute to Kyle [Shanahan] and the leadership group he brought in with the front office and his coaching staff," Staley said.

Staley returned to action Sunday after missing one game due to a fractured orbital bone suffered against the Eagles on Oct. 29.

"Also, the veteran players that are really keeping everybody locked in because you're not going to win games, you're not going to turn things around by pointing fingers. Guys really bought in, guys really believe. I'm really excited to see where we go from here and get back to work after this bye week because I think we've really got something special here. The record doesn't say it, but I'm really excited about it," Staley said.

After the bye week, the 1-9 49ers host the Seahawks on Nov. 26.

Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts


Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.

Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.

Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.

Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.

Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.

The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.

Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.

An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations


An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

If the 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are unable to reach a multi-year contract extension by March 6, the 49ers have no other choice but to designate him as their franchise player.

The estimated one-year salary for the franchise tag would be $23.307 million, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry, whose work now appears at CBS Sports. (That is assuming a 2018 league-wide salary cap of $178.1 million per team.)

There is a lot to consider for both sides as they look to enter into a long-term contract. Corry said if a deal is struck, he would expect it to be in the neighborhood of Derek Carr’s five-year, $125 million deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason.

“And then there’s the other dynamic, which I would not undersell or I think may not be appreciated as much as it should be,” Corry said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “(Garoppolo’s agent) Don Yee has a reputation – no fault of his own – of doing team-friendly deals.”

Yee also represents New England quarterback Tom Brady, whose average of $20.5 million annual pay ranks 15th among NFL quarterbacks. Brady is underpaid by design, Corry said, because one of the great quarterbacks of all-time realizes it helps the Patriots to maintain a strong supporting cast.

“That’s because Tom Brady dictates, ‘I want to do something good for the team, take less money so we can improve the roster to win Super Bowls.’ That’s not Don Yee who wants to do that,” Corry said.

“The agent works for the player, so he’s executing Tom Brady’s wishes. But he gets that held against him in recruiting. So this is his opportunity to erase that perception if Garoppolo allows him to do his job and gives him latitude to strike the deal that he feels is appropriate.”

For more on the potential negotiating strategies of both sides, listen here to the 49ers Insider Podcast.