49ers' Joe Staley held out on decision to retire: 'I knew that the draft was basically the deadline'

Six-time Pro-Bowler Joe Staley was gearing up to have the biggest year of his career after the San Francisco 49ers made it to the Super Bowl, but after battling a broken leg and consistent neck and back issues, he was forced to walk away all together.

Staley announced his retirement on the final day of the NFL Draft shortly after the Washington Redskins had agreed to trade Trent Williams in exchange for a fifth-round pick this year and a third-round pick next year. The trade raised questions about Staley’s future on the roster.

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“I knew that the draft was basically the deadline for that for me and also for them (49ers) because I wanted them to know 100-percent what I was going to do by then,” Staley said in remarks distributed by the team.

“I kind of made the decision that it was leaning towards that way probably about a month ago, but I still wanted to give myself more time to see if conditions improved, if things got better, if my mind changed.”

Staley said that the team had been involved in his decision to retire every step of the way, and while he hoped that he could continue on, his health concerns were too great.

“Last year should have been the pinnacle of my career. We had an absolutely unbelievable team from the culture to the coaching staff, front office, the players that were around. And it was like that the whole entire year. But, for me personally, it was really, really difficult because of the injuries.”

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He continued: “I had the broken leg which was kind of a weird rehab for that, it wasn’t very straightforward, I had a lot of complications coming back from that. I think they were pretty documented and then I came back and broke the finger, had to have surgery on that and that was just a broken. While that happened, I had a back thing and then I’ve had neck stuff that’s been going on for a little bit and it just kind of got worse and worse as the season went on. The last half of the year, not really the last half the year, it was kind of like the last two or three games it started getting progressively worse and then in the playoffs it was really bad, and then kind of culminated with the Super Bowl being the worst.”

Staley, 35, was drafted by the 49ers 28th overall in 2007. In his 13-season long career, Staley had six Pro Bowl and two Super Bowl appearances.

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“I made the decision that for me, family and what my life looks like going forward it was the right time I guess, if there is a right time to step away,” Staley said.