Stuck in doldrums, Joe Staley goes in-depth on uplifting talk with Kyle Shanahan


Stuck in doldrums, Joe Staley goes in-depth on uplifting talk with Kyle Shanahan

The 49ers were mired in a losing streak to open the season, and five-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley was not feeling great or playing well.

And for the first time in his 11-year NFL career, Staley could envision the end of his career rapidly approaching.

Staley described on The 49ers Insider Podcast how a long sit-down conversation with coach Kyle Shanahan got him refocused to not only finish the season but energized for future seasons with the organization.

“I was just kind of in the doldrums, and my mood was not good,” Staley said. “I wasn’t coming to work with the same kind of enthusiasm that I usually come in with. I actually sought out Kyle and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to sit down and have a conversation. I have to talk to you. I just need to get out of my own head right now.’ ”

Staley’s knee was acting up and he said he felt like he was in a professional rut. He was learning a new scheme under the franchise’s fourth head coach in four seasons. The team was rebuilding. He turned 33 in August.

“Is this going to be my last season? You kind of get weighed down by that stuff,” Staley said. “You have a career and you think about how you want it to end. It was the first time I was thinking about that stuff.”

Staley credits his conversation with Shanahan for assisting him in turning around his attitude.

“It was beneficial for me and that speaks to the kind of person he is -- to be about to sit down with a guy that’s older and dealing with stuff as a first-time head coach and be able to really sit down and get me refocused,” Staley said. “It was a big help to me this year.”

It also did not hurt that the 49ers shortly thereafter acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in a trade with the New England Patriots and concluded the season on a five-game win streak.

Whereas earlier in the season, Staley thought this could be the final season of his career, he recently told his wife, “Hey, I’m going to be a football player for a little bit longer.”

He said of his early season thoughts of retirement, “I’m so far gone from where I was in that moment. I’m just focused on next year and, hopefully, years after that.”

Staley said he felt he finished the season playing some of his best football. He feels energized by the direction of the organization under Shanahan, general manager John Lynch and the new quarterback.

“He’s got everything you want,” Staley said of Garoppolo. “We’re excited about him. (But) collectively, it’s everything.

"Obviously, we’re excited about the quarterback and what he’s brought to the team and the franchise. His play has elevated everybody around him. Also, too, with the head coach and the front office, you see the guys they’re bringing it. You know they get it. All coupled together, it’s fun. I wish I were a lot younger.”

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.