49ers’ Joe Staley does his job the way he lives his life — ‘the right way’

San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley (74) is introduced before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/John Hefti)


Just what kind of a good sport is offensive lineman Joe Staley?

The day after the 49ers announced Staley was a finalist for the NFL’s Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, to be announced Feb. 3, Staley met with reporters in the locker room to discuss the honor of the nomination and his good sportsmanship.

Reporters were looking for a serious story, a humorous anecdote, any example they could use in their articles of Staley being a good sport and a swell guy.

“Didn’t you try to break up a fight a few years ago when you guys were in Tennessee playing the Titans?” a reporter asked.

“No, I started it,” Staley said with a sly grin. “Yeah, what a good sport. Great sport. Just making sure everybody’s energy levels were up during the game. Felt like there was a lull. Fans weren’t getting a show. So yeah, started a fight. Forgot about that. Bernard Pollard. That was when Jim Harbaugh jumped in the middle of it.”

That was 2013. Staley was 29. Still developing his sportsmanship.

In 2014, the NFL created the Art Rooney Award, which annually honors the “player who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.” The award was named for the late founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a man who spent much of his youth as a brawling amateur boxer and later purchased his football franchise with winnings from a racetrack.

Staley has been one of eight finalists for this award each of the past three seasons.

What would it mean to him to win the award?

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And Merry Christmas, everyone.

This article has 95 Comments

  1. “Lowell didn’t think you did anything wrong,” the reporter said.

    “I did,” Staley said.

    There you go, that’s all you need to know about Mr. Staley.

  2. Thank you for the nice article Grant, I want to say Merry Christmas back but I believe you are Jewish, happy Hanukkah or wish you the best in whatever brings you comfort and gives you the most faith! I disagree with you often but love your work ethic and your tenacity! I love this forum and will mss your efforts when an if you move onto bigger and better things!

  3. Really good guy who has always had humility and humor and plays hard. A great example of the guy you want to have your back in the foxhole.
    Well painted portrait by Grant.

  4. I think that ‘Big Joe’ exemplifies the football gladiators of a bygone era; Nomellini, Toneff, St.Clair, Ed Beard, and Matt Hazeltine….wipe off the blood and get back in there…Thanks Joe, for the service to the ‘Faithful’….

  5. Jimmy Garoppolo contract offer

    30 million first year all guaranteed.

    Do it. Give him no reason to sign anywhere else. Its not worth it.

    1. Thomas is a good player, but the problem was and is the same. Fit.
      In this system he plays the same role as Armstead… he lacks the explosiveness to play the edge on passing downs or in sub-packages, which are played 60 percent of the time or more. In those situations, for him to be effective he has to kick inside. And since Defo is far and away our best pass rusher he can’t come off, which means Armstead has to come off the field. Oddly, from what I have seen, when healthy I think Armstead is a better interior pass rusher.
      My biggest issue is that I feel in a few years I expect the niners will move on from Armstead (or Thomas) as they don’t compliment each other and they represent too big of an investment for a position with so little impact.
      I hope I am wrong, but we will see.

      1. Shoup,
        Armstead and Thomas are both out standing outside versus the run, then you can move one of them inside on passing downs. A three man rotation on passing downs would keep everyone fresh and provide ample depth. Now we just have to find a couple pass rushers who can play outside one of whom can be a situational player.

        1. Coach,
          I understand and believe in a good rotation. My problem stems from thee fact that neither one are good enough to take allow Buckner to come off the field. They are both ok interior rushers but at this point I don’t even know that either one of them are even above average interior rushers… To put it simply, I’m not certain they are better than the likes of Ronald Blair. That scares me considering the investment.

      2. Thomas is fine. He’s currently only 2 sacks behind where Bryant Young was at the same stage in his career, and 3 ahead based on age.

          1. Incorrect. Young had 45 tackles in 16 games as a rookie, an average of 2.8 per game.

            Thomas currently has 33 in 13 games as a rookie for an average of 2.5.

            1. I stand corrected, think thomas can make 12 tackles next game ? Then 61 tackles and 11 sacks in his 3rd year since were comparing him to an All Pro, ProBowler, etc., etc.,

              1. If Thomas can match his performance from the Jaguars game he will end the season with the same number of tackles per game as Young did in his rookie season.

              2. Also, Thomas had the luxury of playing the Leo quite a bit, where he didn’t have to face double teams all season like Young did.

                As I recall, Thomas had a difficult time with the OT’s around the league.

                Imagine Bryant Young lining up outside w/o a double team…..Halloween scary if you’re the QB !

              3. “he was Rookie of the Year”

                Yes he was, and playing on a Super Bowl team helps with winning those awards.

              4. How about Dana Stubblefield ?

                He had 10.5 sacks and 64 tackles his rookie year, but was the 26th pick in the 1st Rd.
                How does your # 3 pick compare with this All Pro and Pro Bowler?

                I noticed you shied away from this particular rookie comparison ?

            2. In his rookie year Pierce Holt played in 9 games and recorded 5 sacks and 15 tackles. Hell, let’s compare all 9er defensive linemen taken in the first 3 rounds over the last 40 years.

              1. Feel free. Young was mentioned because he was also taken very high in the first round and posted similar numbers.

                I wonder how much different many players of the past would be viewed had social media and blogs been around them.

        1. Jack,
          I don’t agree with the logic. Using sacks alone maybe… but Young was far more disruptive.
          Don’t get me wrong I don’t think Thomas will be a bust and think he will be an ok player. I just don’t know if he is an upgrade over Ronald Blair as a pass rusher. Blair also had 3 sacks in his rookie season but he did it with far fewer snaps… So I’m guessing his pressure rate might be higher.

      3. Here’s the problem, you (like most fans and press) really seem to think a guy coming out of college is going to be an accomplished pass rusher. It’s RARE.

        Here are your rookie sack leaders coming into this weekend:

        1. Carl Lawson DE, Cincinnati Bengals – 7
        2. Takk McKinley OLB, Atlanta Falcons – 6
        3. Derek Barnett DE, Philadelphia Eagles – 5
        4. Myles Garrett DE, Cleveland Browns – 5
        5. TJ Watt OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers – 5
        6. Tyus Bowser OLB, Baltimore Ravens – 3
        7. Desmond Kings S, LA Chargers – 3
        8. Nazair Jones DT, Seattle Seahawks – 2.5
        9. Deatrich Wise DE, New England Patriots – 2.5
        10. Hassan Reddick OLB, Arizona Cardinals – 2.5

        After this weekend, Thomas has 3 sacks. That puts him tied for 6th as:

        Bowser did not get a sack.
        King did not get a sack.
        Jones did not get a sack.
        Wise did not get a sack.
        Reddick did not get a sack.

        Some of them didn’t even make a tackle! Never mind get nominated, for the fourth time, for rookie of the week,

        Seriously, people, ya’ll just need to relax and stop projecting your fears onto Thomas. It takes two-to-three years for most NFL defensive linemen to become good pass rushers. Chris Long, Michael Strahan, Warren Sapp, etc., etc., etc. A ton of very good linemen, some of them HOFers, just weren’t skilled, despite elite physicality, enough for the NFL. And it took them a season or four or even five to get up to speed.

        And the reason is simple. In college, virtually every lineman they faced in college was Beadles/Thomlinson or worse. In fact, most of them were guys not even good enough to fail in the NFL. They didn’t need ‘skill’ and ‘technique’ to win. They just had athleticism.

        Well, in the NFL, even the bad offensive linemen were great college linemen. And now it takes more than athleticism to get sacks. And that’s what Thomas needs to learn and was set behind on because of the NFL rules that kept away until his class at Stanford graduated.

        1. Yep. Thomas has had his ups and downs, like any rookie does. But he has been quite good against the run most of the year, been a starter (and not because the coaches are trying to justify the pick – that was a ridiculous notion offered by Oregon below – his play shows he deserves it), and has racked up a few sacks along the way.

          He is by no means a standout pass rusher right now and he has shown his future as a pass rusher is not likely to be on the edge. But then the coaches have already said they want him as an interior pass rusher. And he has shown his quickness and strength can be assets there. Look at the interior rookie pass rushers and not one has more sacks than Thomas this year.

          He’s doing fine for now. He needs to keep improving, sure, but so do the vast majority of rookies. Even top 5 picks.

          1. Scooter_McG

            How many “ridiculous notions’ would have changed our first six games from Ls to Ws…? 3 points or less This isn’t an isolated incident…Does it ring any bells to remember Kwame Harris, Kentwan Balmer, Chilo Rachal, or Marcus Martin? Joshua Garnett is still on hold to see if he’s the real thing….The expectations of a #3 draftee is a plug-n-play automatic starter…IMHO, Ron Blair is much better than Thomas….

    2. RAW

      Excuse me, but…Baloney
      He was duplication without the length required for the position …he’s playing ahead of better players IMO to make him look like he WAS a legit 3rd player drafted…uh uh….

      1. Why don’t you educate yourself on how draft picks work. Very rarely you find Super Stars in there first years as a pro. It takes time for kids that are 22-23 years old. Thomas is 21 years old and has played soild all year. Is he a Star right now of course not. Is he worth #3 overall pick we won’t know for about 3 Years. All I do know is that he is being nominated for rookie of the week with his performance against the Jags with 6 Tackles and 1 sack. Not a bad performance for a kid that everyone is writing off as a rookie SMH!

        1. Fournette and Jamal Adams all chosen after Solo are stars.
          When you have a top 3 pick the expectation is he is gonna start and make an immediate impact.
          The 3rd overall pick should not be limited to one good game followed by three bad. He’s been invisible most of the year.

          Will he become better? We sure hope so but evaluating the pick after a year, it’s a fail.
          Every position varies and it also greatly depends on the coaching staff.
          Look at Trubisky. Talented guy who was shackled and probably will have a different head coach.
          Watson got his chance in HOU and excelled having a great WR and RB combo to help him with a HC with a pretty good offensive mind.

          I think we all expected Solo T to show more.

          1. Thomas certainly shouldn’t be considered a fail, or a bust. He was simply drafted earlier than he should have been. Undersized interior lineman shouldn’t be picked in the top 20, let alone top 5, IMO. Thankfully, he’s got value, and will be a solid, if unspectacular player and contributor on the 49ers for years to come. He’s a good kid, with a good head on his shoulder, and will work his tail off to get better.

            Personally, I was against the pick, because I felt there were better players at bigger positions of need (Adams, Lattimore). I also felt like there was a decent chance Thomas would find himself buried on the depth chart unless there were injuries, which is probably the case. I would always be hesitant to draft a player with Thomas’ physical limitations that high in the draft (he should have been drafted somewhere between late round 1-mid round 2, IMO), but his drive and determination give him enough of an upside that he’ll likely find his niche, and provide some value on this defense, and that’s a nice player to have, even if there were better options at #3.

              1. Hey Prime.

                Sure, but I’m not the one who drafted him 3rd overall. They won’t get that kind of value in return, so that’s a tough pill to swallow. I think they will keep developing him and find the best place for him, even if it means he has to put on more weight.

                I’m heading overseas tomorrow, have a great New Year Prime. GO NINERS!

            1. Exactly we are not saying he’s a bust. Simply that the value return on this investment is not looking good.
              My fear regarding him coming into the draft was he couldn’t play the edge. We had plenty of interior dl talent in terms of pass rush but no way to force the QB to step up into that rush. 1 year later, from what I have seen, we have exactly the same situation.

      1. It was a bad pick with the hope he can become a good player next year.
        Whenever you have a top 5 pick, I think the expectation is high.

  6. Lost in the excitement of this late season surge is the fact that we’ve seen this from teams in the past. Followed by an optimistic offseason. Followed by falling flat on their faces to start the next season, only to rebound again when the games are meaningless.

      1. Not to mention a quarterback that processes information in the pocket like an Intel i9, and releases the football like Dan Marino, with the accuracy of Bernie Kosar. Then add to that the amount of high draft picks, and F/A spending money, with the allure of playing for an up and coming team. Shanny+Jimmy=Greatness awaits….

        1. It’s a great start to the rebuild and of course it could go sideways, but it could also trend like it did with the Rams and Saints this year.

          The most important position has been solidified in Jimmy G. Now the rebuild must continue with adding players in positions of need. WR, OL, Pass rush, and the secondary.

          What can’t be overlooked is the fact that Jimmy G has changed the culture in one month where the expectation is playing as team and winning as a team.
          Add the fact everyone has bought into Shannys program,the 49ers are set up next year to contend next year in the NFC.

          People are always going to bring the element of doubt and negativity and that’s fine. The team has to prove it on the field week in and week out.
          In the NFL you are only as good as your last game.

        2. Yeah, basically when these teams that win games at the end of the year and create a buzz its generally teams that underperformed early in the year and win a few games to close out the year to get to 5-7 wins. But rarely do these teams win 5 of 6, and never have they come from a place of 0-9.

          They also don’t usually have a situation where they lost 5 of 6 games to start they year by 3 or less points.

          So yes, while there should be some caution around the hype, I also think the buzz is justified.

    1. Jack – Maybe we should bring Harbaugh back now that the team is competitive again. Give him a second chance to run it into the ground. Just saying.

  7. If there winning games with a gutted roster like they have, chances are they will continue to improve with better talent. Especially with an off season ahead for JG to get a better grasp of the system and the tendency of his players and coach.

  8. I think most of us were very worried that Jimmy G might get injured in the JAX game. Not only did he not get injured, but it seems that the number of new injuries has decreased markedly over the last few games (with the exception of Foster). Someone said earlier that bad teams seem to have more injuries than good teams.

    1. A lot of injuries on offense happen on plays where the QB holds the ball too long or throws to players that puts them in a vulnerable position. A lot of injuries on D happen due to fatigue.

      JG gets rid of the ball pretty quick and rarely leads his receiver into danger, and also keeps drives alive keeping the D fresh.

      I am sure part of it is also guys wanting to stay out there just a bit more than previously, but I do think a QB that limits exposure of his players to injury has a part to play.

      1. Makes sense, Scooter.

        Maybe they should not play Foster for the last game to let the healing process start and not risk a more serious injury. Hopefully, during the offseason, he’ll take a hard look at how he plays to see if he can reduce the chance of injury by modifying his playing style.

    2. cubus

      agreed…bad teams don’t have that much to play hard for (playoffs etc.) and so they don’t give it their all every play that’s when most injuries occur…

    1. Didn’t think so.

      “Rams coach Sean McVay told the media in Thousand Oaks that he will probably rest his starters for the season finale against the 49ers. Getting guys healthy is more important than a 3 or a 4 seed, McVay said.”

      1. I smell a chicken! In a non conference game, sure, rest your starters. But against a division rival, you play to win no matter what.

          1. I understand why but it’s bad for the game and bad for the fans.
            It’s actually killing the NBA right now but if McVay thinks it’s an advantage for his team then he should do it.
            I’ll be a fan of whoever the Rams play in the 1st round.

            1. As much as I hate Seattle, if they get in and have to play the Rams, I’d love to see Seattle beat them. Otherwise I’ll be a Falcons fan for 4 hours that game.

        1. If I were the Rams, and saw it made no difference in home field advantage… I’d play my starters just long enough to see them get in rhythm then get get the youngsters and backups some work.
          Rivalry games are for fans.

  9. Players 49ers just disqualified themselves from:

    #3. William Connor, OT, to Colts
    #4. Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, To Browns
    #5. Bradley Chubb, DE, to Tampa Bay
    #6. Josh Allen, QB, to Denver

    Etc., Etc..

  10. San Francisco 49ers’ Christmas wish list going into 2018
    by Peter Panacy1 day ago

    Wish No. 1: The New Orleans Saints Get Eliminated Early

    San Francisco owns New Orleans’ own second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. This was from a Round 3 trade made by general manager John Lynch a year ago, which also landed a seventh-round selection too.
    With the Niners having dealt their own second-round pick to the New England Patriots, in exchange for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, this Saints pick remains the lone one Lynch will have at his disposal in the round.

    Therefore, the earlier the Saints depart the playoff picture, the better. Otherwise, the pick will go much later in the round.

  11. “Mind you, this is a 49ers team that dropped its first nine games. And they flat-out whupped the AFC South champions.

    The 49ers have now won five out of six and four straight with Garoppolo at the helm. A team that was thought to be in the conversation for the worst in the league has two straight wins over teams with winning records.

    And 2018 can’t get here fast enough for fans who want to see what happens next.”

    Week 16 Grade: A

  12. If not free agency, the NFL Draft has some options too. SMU’s Courtland Sutton is an intriguing target, as is Oklahoma State’s James Washington.

    Regardless of the selection, a top-flight wideout would make this group scary:

    2. Pierre Garçon (returning from injured reserve)
    3. Trent Taylor (slot)
    4. Marquise Goodwin (deep threat)
    Most offensive coordinators would be thrilled with this lineup. So let’s hope the 49ers find this particular holiday wish and land a true No. 1 receiving threat


    1. cubus

      agreed…bad teams don’t have that much to play hard for (playoffs etc.) and so they don’t give it their all every play that’s when most injuries occur…

    1. TomD

      I agree…Courtland Sutton would be the candy in the xmas stocking for the niners…Jackson might be better…get one or both (remember Anquon and Fitz?)

  13. McVay said he’s resting starters Sunday. 49ers have a good chance of getting its 6th win.

    49ers currently draft 7th. With 6 wins the draft pick is in range 10-12. Many of my developing draft crushes will be gone by 10. But there should still be help at key spots (Edge, CB, OL, WR)

    I’ll be rooting for these 6 wins teams (Bengals, Dolphins, Raiders) Sunday.

    1. A lot of people including me were down on this new regimes first draft earlier in the season.

      But look at how well they have developed now. Still lots of holes to fill but so far it looks like a good draft overall.

    2. Foster will be the one that makes or breaks this draft. If he goes down or his shoulder injury goes all Bosworth… this draft suddenly looks average.

    3. A lot of the credit should also go to coaches too, for player development. Hopefully, this can translate to Joe Williams and Pita T as well.

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