SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Longtime 49er Joe Staley spoke publicly for the first time since announcing his retirement over the weekend, and so did several of his teammates.

“Joe’s a guy that I’ve kind of always been in awe of,” George Kittle said.

“He was the best in the world at what he did, but he was an even better teammate,” Mike McGlinchey said.

“Joe’s a phenomenal guy, phenomenal guy,” Patrick Willis said.

When 49ers players past and present talk about their teammate, six-time pro-bowl left tackle Joe Staley, some common themes emerge — Leadership, integrity, friendship. 

That’s the legacy Staley leaves after a 13 year NFL career.

“I would hope that they’d respect the work that I put in and know that I gave it my all for the team and try to do everything I could to help the team win,” Staley said. 

Despite his many contributions on the field, what might stand out most are the impressions he made off it.

“Just the way that he opened the doors up to his family, to himself, and to our relationship that he had for the last two-and-a-half, three years, is something that I’m gonna cherish for the rest of my life,” McGlinchey said.

“The attitude that Joe showed up with all the time, and who he is as a person, I think that just kind of inspired guys to wanna play at the same level that he was playing at,” Kittle said. 

Though Staley’s cleats aren’t easy ones to fill, the 49ers hope they’ve found the answer, in veteran left tackle Trent Williams, acquired via trade over the weekend.

“We replaced one of the best tackles in the NFL with another one of the best tackles in the NFL who both play the game very similarly, have nastiness in them, have incredible athletic ability, and are off the charts in pass protections,” McGlinchey said. 

Staley said he hopes the 49ers won’t miss a beat with Williams in the mix but Staley will miss the 49ers.

“Playing for that franchise meant a ton for me, and I’ve had preliminary discussions with the Niners about doing something for them, I don’t know what that’s going to entail,” Staley said. 

Whether or not he ends up working for the team, Staley will be remembered as a 49er for life.

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