MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Joe Staley’s typically an engaging speaker, offering thoughtful and pertinent responses to questions thrown his way.
The team’s left tackle was short and a bit terse after the 31-20 result at Hard Rock Stadium, for a little while anyway. The gruff exterior faded in time, and Staley explained why this outcome was so tough to take.
“I’m sorry. I’m just super disappointed,” Staley said. “This is very hard, being in this moment right now. You put your heart and soul, your whole entire life into trying to be a Super Bowl champion. You get to the end of your career and you realize how rare these opportunities are. Emotions are all still raw and real right now. I’m trying to answer questions as best I can.
Sorry that I’m not -- put yourself in my shoes for a second. It’s tough.”
Staley has played in two Super Bowls seven years apart and lost them both. The 13-year veteran contemplated retirement a few years back but has backed away from that thought and seems ready and willing to play a long time now with head coach Kyle Shanahan and a talented young foundation that has given his career second life.
“Am I optimistic about this football team? One hundred percent,” Staley said. “We’re built for the long haul. I could not be more proud of the guys in our locker room and I think we have a ton of talent. We’ll be back.”
That’s certainly the goal, but everyone knows that’s hard. They considered this a golden opportunity to win one for Joe, a rallying cry for many 49ers leading up to this game.
“I love Joe Staley,” tight end George Kittle said. “Since Day 1 he has been incredible. Seeing him get back to this stage was so cool and he was so happy about it. He’s such a great leader, even when he was hurt. He came back and continued playing at an elite level. I think he’s the best left tackle in the NFL.
"There’s nothing more that I wanted than to get him a ring. It hurts not to be able to do that.”