Joe Staley won’t be entering the final year of his contract after all.
The 49ers announced Wednesday their six-time Pro-Bowl left tackle agreed to a two-year extension, linking him to the team until 2021, when he’ll be 37.
“I’ve made it very clear to everybody that I want to play as long as I can,” Staley said in April when asked about potential contract discussions. His contract was due to expire after the 2019 season. He turns 35 in August and has played 12 seasons.
“I still love the game,” he said, “still feel like I can play at a high level. Still feel like I’m valued on the football team. I know it’s my last year under contract, but I’m not worried about that. I’m just going to go out there and try and do everything I can to help us win games with this team.”
Staley has said he contemplated retirement while the 49ers were mired in their 2-14 campaign in 2016 under former coach Chip Kelly, but also he felt reinvigorated under new coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. The team announced the extension during their “State of the Franchise” event for season ticket holders in San Jose.
The extension means the 49ers can put off finding a potential replacement at tackle, one of the most valuable and expensive positions on offense. Terms for the deal were not disclosed, though Staley was expected to make $10.95 million this season.
The team used the No. 9 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on Mike McGlinchey, who had a strong rookie year at right tackle and traded away Trent Brown, a holdover from the previous regime who wasn’t considered a good fit with the new offense. McGlinchey, 24, and Staley became fast friends which Staley has said contributed to his renewed optimism about the team.
Staley has been an active participant in the team’s voluntary offseason program despite being the most accomplished veteran on the roster. Training with his teammates, he said, was important to him, even though he’s been held out of full-team drills during OTAs. Those reps have gone to Shon Coleman and rookie Justin Skule, who are competing to be the backup “swing” tackle.
“I just enjoy being around the guys,” Staley said. “It was never like a thought for me to be anywhere else.”