The 49ers have arranged a few video conferences with their players each week since the NFL draft ended, and everyone talking to local reporters gets asked for a favorite Joe Staley memory.
The fun part about how the recently retired All-Decade left tackle has been recalled: Every story is different. Every story is lighthearted and fun, with a prime example of how much Staley loved the game. The variety also speaks to the individual impacts he had on so many.
It was understood Staley was contemplating retirement after an arduous postseason run he played through despite significant neck issues that ultimately led him to walk away from the game.
Staley said early in that ride to the airport that he was done. Juszczyk provided some push back.
"I'm like, ‘Come on, Joe," Juszczyk said. "We still need you, man. At least give it another year.'"
Staley pondered the alternative and quickly softened his stance.
"Then 10 minutes go by and he was 50-50 and he had to think about it," Juszczyk said. "Then another 10 minutes go by and he says he thinks he might come back, that he should give [the decision] some more time. Then, by the time we get to the airplane, he's saying that he's coming back and that he's got to play."
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These Staley anecdotes always speak to his competitiveness and desire to keep playing.
"Things obviously didn't turn out that way but you could just see the wheels turning in his head as he was thinking about it," Juszczyk said. "You could see the type of competitor he was and how much he really loved the game. Under perfect conditions I'm sure he would love to be out there with us [next season], but Joe will have a lasting impression on me."
The fullback went a step further, saying Staley's one of his favorite teammates. Like, ever. That's a sentiment echoed time and again as featured 49ers say how great he was in the locker room and on the field over a storied career.
"He kept things light but was also a consummate professional," Juszczyk said. "He was always willing to put his body on the line out there. I've seen him battle through so many injuries and be happy to do it.
"He had an unbelievable career and he has been a phenomenal teammate."
49ers' Kyle Juszczyk shares cool story on Joe Staley's competitiveness originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area