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.”

NFL unveils new Oakley mouth shield recommended for coronavirus safety

NFL unveils new Oakley mouth shield recommended for coronavirus safety

Sports around the world are going to great lengths to try and keep athletes safe as they return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic. For professional football, teams like the 49ers face a litany of difficulties when it comes to trying to operate a standard NFL game while adhering to California's social distancing guidelines.

The NFL unveiled one idea on Monday, the Oakley Mouth Shield, which hypothetically would be worn on the field and help reduce the spread of the virus.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

The NFL's chief medical officer hasn't formally mandated the use of face masks for players just yet, but he is encouraging the concept.

"That's certainly what we're going to encourage," Dr. Allen Sills told ESPN. "And we hope that we're going to land on a product design that's something that everyone would want to wear, because they'll see the value and want that additional protection without any detriment to performance."

The masks already are being put into practice with the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, two teams who train nearby Oakley's international headquarters.

49ers tight end George Kittle recently questioned how players will be able to stay safe between the lines this fall during a conversation with NBC Sports Bay Area.

"Whether your lockers are six feet apart or not, you still have to get in a huddle and I still have to block Nick Bosa and I still have block Arik Armstead in camp," Kittle told Matt Maiocco on the "49ers Insider Podcast." "It's hard to social distance when you're on the line of scrimmage. That's the one thing I'm most interested in seeing how it plays out."

[RELATED: Ex-49er sees Jamal Adams as next Richard Sherman-type face of NFL]

Some players around the league already have expressed their doubts about the proposed face masks.

"My second year in the league I thought it'd be cool, I put a visor on my helmet," Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt told ProFootballTalk. "I was like, 'It looks so cool, I wanna put a visor on.' I had it on for about three periods of practice and I said, 'Take this sucker off -- I'm gonna die out here.' ... So now you're gonna put something around my mouth? You can keep that. If that comes into play, I don't think you're gonna see me on the field."

Just like the countrywide pushback we've seen to mask mandates in the U.S., an NFL directive for players to apply these masks to their helmets likely would be met with mixed feelings. We've seen numerous players from the NBA and MLB withdraw from their season restarts over safety concerns, there could begin to be NFL players entertaining the same idea if they don't feel protected from potential contamination

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo snubbed in Madden 21 top quarterback rankings

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo snubbed in Madden 21 top quarterback rankings

This is getting ridiculous. No love for Jimmy Garoppolo … again?

That’s right -- the 49ers’ quarterback was left of the top 10 ranking list at the position for Madden NFL 21, as some details have been leaked Monday. 

Sure, it’s tough to share company with Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, but come on.

The guy helped lead the 49ers to 13 wins and Super Bowl LIV last season -- and that was one year after a torn ACL injury. 

This comes off Jimmy G only receiving only two top-10 votes during a poll on ESPN where NFL executives, coaches, scouts and players were asked to pick their top-10 quarterbacks currently in the game. JUST TWO.

A veteran coach did give him a compliment saying Jimmy G probably has a ceiling, and he thinks “he’s a really good quarterback in this league.”

This week, ESPN will be revealing the player ratings beginning Monday. The ratings are decided by the Madden NFL Ratings Performance Adjustors which calculates a number of ratings in every player which for quarterbacks include speed, acceleration, agility rating, awareness rating, throw power rating, break sack rating, throw under pressure rating, play-action rating and throw on the run rating. 

This isn’t the first time Garoppolo has been overlooked either, not by far. His teammates have come to his defense before because they were the ones who see him put work in.

George Kittle specifically has spoken against some of the criticisms

Kittle also was snubbed in the recent Madden ratings having not been made a member of the prestigious “99 Club” despite being the best tight end in the league.

Garoppolo was one of the leaders of the team that began the 2019 season 8-0 and also was the only quarterback to rank in the top five in yards per attempt (8.4), passing touchdowns (27) and completion percentage (69.1). 

[RELATED: Kittle questions how football could be played while social distancing]

In his first full season under coach Kyle Shanahan, Garoppolo accumulated 3,978 passing yards, 102.0 passer rating and 13 interceptions.

Put some respect on the name.