After 13 long seasons, San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley announced he was during the 2020 NFL Draft. While the 49ers did acquire a seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams from the Washington Redskins on the same day, it will be hard to replace the kind of leadership Staley brought to his unit.
Staley walks away after an injury riddled 2019 campaign -- one in which he played in just seven games. The 35 year old missed two months with a broken fibula in 2019 and played through Super Bowl LIV with a hand injury. In his retirement announcement on Twitter, Staley said that his body was telling him it was time to call it quits, and that he was suffering from a deteriorating neck condition that led to constant discomfort -- which affected "every aspect" of his life.
During a recent appearance on the "Bussin' With the Boys" podcast -- which is hosted by Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan -- Staley went into further detail about the injuries he had been dealing with.
"It was a bunch of stingers," Staley said, via NBCSportsBayArea.com. "It got to the point where in the Super Bowl, I'd make contact with my head with anybody (and) I'd have -- from the base of my head down to my back -- I'd have just a zing and my arms would go numb. I had herniations at a bunch of different levels and really severe stenosis."
"[The doctor] was like, 'If you're going to continue to play football, you're probably going to have to have fusion surgery on multiple levels.' I was like, 'I'm 35. I've got kids. I don't want to not be able to turn my neck for the rest of my life.' When I went and saw these doctors, I realized how serious it was. They were like, 'If you continue to play, you're going to really do some long-term damage.'"
Staley will go down in history as a 49ers' legend. The six-time Pro Bowler appeared in two Super Bowls for the 49ers (he was the only player on the 49ers' Super Bowl LIV team that also played on the Super Bowl XLVII team). A first-round pick of the 49ers in 2007, Staley started all 181 games he played for San Francisco. There were rumors this offseason that Staley was considering retirement, however, and that unfortunately became a reality last week.