Here’s what Joe Staley said in response to a question I just asked him in the 49ers locker room.
ME: “How do you feel about the future of this team?”
STALEY: “I feel optimistic. I think we have a lot of young guys on this team, a lot of guys that are stepping up. We need more guys to get into those leadership roles. I see the traits and qualities that are needed out of those young guys, but that can’t be something that’s forced upon someone. That’s kind of got to grow naturally for it to be effective. I think with more opportunity for guys to be playing and see success on the field — we’ve seen Jimmie Ward the last four or five weeks really really playing amazing. He’s a guy that really works hard. And you see (Jaquiski) Tartt, a young guy. And (Arik) Armstead. And you see Trent Brown really playing really great last week on the O-line. And (Andrew) Tiller. All these guys are kind of stepping up into roles where they haven’t had a lot of playing experience. But, when they get opportunities and see success individually, then they start becoming more confident and feel like (they) have a voice more.”