Wow -- 2017 seems a long way away. We'll probably be driving garbage-powered cars and living in floating cities by then. But Joe Staley in all likelihood will still be a 49er. The 49ers today extended the contract of their big left tackle by six years. Staley was one of two first-round draft picks -- Patrick Willis was the other -- in 2007. He is slated for a second season at left tackle, this time opposite Marvel Smith, who will start at right tackle. Staley is the only 49er to have played every snap in both 2007 and 2008.
Staley said he was approached by the 49ers this offseason and was a bit surprised by the proposition. After all, he had signed a five-year deal in 2007 and still had three years remaining. But signing Staley is part of the 49ers' strategy to get promising young players locked into long-term deals. The 49ers had said that they would dabble lightly in free agency this season and concentrate instead on extending their own players. The team inked linebacker Parys Haralson to an extension earlier in the offseason. You have to believe that Willis, and perhaps tight end Vernon Davis, also are on that list.
Staley said he was hoping to achieve continuity on the offensive line. He pointed to the New York Giants line, which has no individual super stars, as an example. "That's the way you build a franchise -- through your young players," he said.
As far as the mood around 49ers camp, Staley said it's been entirely positive this spring. The 49ers don't seem to be doing much differently, he said, and yet there's a different atmosphere. He pointed to all the "pr's" (personal records) players have hoisted in the weight room. "My numbers in the weight room are the highest they've been in my career," he said.
Staley also said that in discussions with the team, he's been given the impression that he is the 49ers' left tackle of the future. Prior to the draft, team officials had noted that if they had drafted a tackle with the No. 10 pick, Staley could eventually move back to right tackle. "I'm the left tackle here, and that's what I plan on being," he said.
Staley's agent declined to give the details of the deal, confirming that it was a six-year extension through 2017.
-- Matt Barrows