SANTA CLARA -- Joe Staley realizes he's running out of time in his NFL career, so he wants to do as much winning as possible with what's remaining.
“I’m old, and I just want to win, so it’s been frustrating in that respect,” the 49ers' veteran left tackle said Wednesday. “I’m excited for next year. I’m coming back, and I’m excited for next season.”
Staley is the longest-tenured member of the 49ers. He has been one of the team's top producers during that time, and he also helps set the tone for the mood and professionalism in the locker room.
The San Francisco Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America selected Staley as the winner of the Garry Niver Award, annually presented to a 49ers player for his cooperation and professional manner in dealing with the media.
“It took 12 years, and you guys finally like me,” Staley quipped.
He added: “You guys have a job to do. And it’s part of the job. I understand that, so I try to make your guys’ jobs as easy and I can be candid, give good answers, be professional.”
Staley’s teammates also seek him out when they want honest answers, 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens said.
“He’s a great role model and a great leader for the locker room,” Mullens said. “He has guided me along very well, and lets me know what I do wrong, what I do right, what I do good, what I do bad.”
The 49ers (4-11) will wrap up their season Sunday against the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers' locker room had remained together, and the team has continued to play hard, but Staley was quick to say those qualities simply aren't enough.
“I’m not going to sit here and say anything too positive about this season,” he said. “It’s been a downer for everybody. But the thing I am proud of is we’ve been out of it for a little bit, but we keep fighting every single week.
“I’m proud of the effort of the guys. But at the end of the day, it’s not an effort business. It’s a results business.”
Staley, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, wasn't selected as a member of the all-star team nor an alternate this year. Still, Staley said he feels good about his personal performance, and he believes he's capable of continuing to play at a high level.
Staley entered the NFL as a first-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2007. He'll be 35 when next season begins. After that, he said he'll likely view his career on a year-to-year basis.
Staley said it always was a priority of his to play with one team.
“I thought that was something that wasn’t being done a whole lot with free agency and everything," Staley said. "Everybody’s career and career path are unique to the individual, but I thought it would be pretty cool to stay in one position and be on one team for your whole entire career. And I’ve been fortunate to be able to do that.”
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Throughout his career, Staley never has come close to being a free agent and leaving the 49ers. In 2009, he signed an extension that kept him under contract to the 49ers through the 2017 season. In 2014, the 49ers signed him to another extension through 2019. In April, the team gave him a pay raise without adding years to his deal.
“I have one more year on my contract,” Staley said. “It’ll be the first time I hit free agency, so that’s exciting. I might go somewhere else. You never know.”
Staley was laughing when he said it.