When a fist came through Joe Staley’s facemask on Oct. 29, breaking his orbital bone and opening a gash beneath his right eye, team doctors used glue to close the wound.
During warmups on Sunday, the glue-seal broke off his face.
“It was a sign,” Staley said, a wide smile on his face, only a faint scar visible under his eye.
The 49ers’ left tackle was back in his familiar spot after missing just one game because of his injury. He wore a visor over his facemask Sunday and said the still-healing fracture didn’t pose a problem and wasn’t harmed during the game.
The 49ers called on Staley not only to protect C.J. Beathard’s blind spot – San Francisco allowed no sacks for the first time this season – but also to give a speech in the run up to the game. Staley and fellow veterans Elvis Dumervil and Kyle Juszczyk spoke to their mostly younger teammates.
“Anyone who knows me personally knows that speaking puts me right back in high school speech class and getting nervous,” he said. “But it was good. It was straight from the heart.”
His message: To continue fighting because the 49ers are on the verge of their first win.
Staley, of course, was right. And despite playing for 11 seasons, including in a Super Bowl, he said Sunday’s 31-21 win over the New York Giants felt as good as any he had witnessed.
“I’ve been part of a lot of wins with this franchise over the 11 years I’ve been here,” Staley said. “This win felt just as good as winning the NFC championship.”
Injury update – A 49ers squad that has sent multiple players to injured reserve after recent games won’t have to do so this week.
The team suffered only one injury – backup running back Raheem Mostert went to the sideline after hurting his shoulder – and even that one wasn’t believed to be serious.
Mostert and Adrian Colbert had served as the team’s gunners on punt coverage for most of the season. With Mostert hurt and Colbert starting at free safety, the role went to cornerback Greg Mabin and receiver Victor Bolden Jr.
Et cetera – With tight end George Kittle (ankle) out, Juszczyk had his most prolific outing, lining up at multiple positions and catching a season-high five passes for 27 yards. Juszczyk also had a fumble in the second quarter, his second in as many games.
▪ Newcomers Louis Murphy, a receiver, and Antone Exum, a safety, both were in uniform Sunday. Murphy started the game and finished with two catches for 48 yards, his first receptions since midway through the 2015 season. Rookie Kendrick Bourne had a season-high three catches for 42 yards.
▪ For the second straight week, rookie linebacker Reuben Foster led all tacklers. He had 10 stops against the Giants.