Kyle Shanahan inherited two franchise players when he took the 49ers job back in February. Offensive tackle Joe Staley is one of them. And as it turns out, it’s a player he’s been wanting to work with for quite a long time.
In a recent NFL Network special previewing the 2017 49ers, Shanahan and Staley each talked about previous desires to team up, as both identified a compatibility between player skill set and system. There was also a mutual admiration of the level of which each man operates in his respective field.
“One of the first O-lineman I ever studied was Joe Staley,” Shanahan told NFL Network. “Him coming out of college, might’ve been a senior in high school when he won the 200 (meter race). He was such a good athlete. He was such an ideal person for the type of scheme that we run.”
Shanahan runs a zone scheme, which is good for athletic-bodied lineman who move well in space. A former tight end turned tackle that ran a 4.79 40-yard dash prior to the 2007 NFL Draft, Staley has been arguably the nimblest tackle in the league for the past decade.
“To be able to watch him coming out of college and see how his career’s been, and now to get here—I wasn’t quite sure, was he still the guy I remember watching—and then to get here and turn on the tape and actually watch Joe, like, ‘Okay, good, this is what I saw in college. This is what he’s been his entire career.’ That was encouraging.
“To get here and see him out there,” Shanahan added. “You’ve got a talented guy I’ve always wanted to work with.”
It wasn’t one-sided, either, as the five-time Pro Bowler expressed his want to play in Shanahan’s offense.
“Really looking forward to the opportunity of playing with him,” Staley said on the series special. “I told him when I got here, I’ve been kind of dreaming of playing in his system. Just the whole entire wide zone, really stretch-and-run, I feel that fits my game.
“I’ve kind of wanted to play in that offense since I’ve been in the NFL, and haven’t really had an opportunity. This is the first I really get a chance to play in, not only in that system, but also under a great play-caller in coach Shanahan.”
Staley, who turns 33 years old before Week 1 of 2017, is entering his 11th NFL season. The man with 143 starts under his belt will be part of a line that is largely undefined around him, but features interesting talents in right tackle Trent Brown and 2016 first-round pick Joshua Garnett.
Media courtesy USA Today Sports