Joe Staley is walking around with a bandaged nose these days and he’s proud of it.
A couple of days into Training Camp, Staley’s helmet gashed his nose during a battle in the trenches and it’s been a recurring issue ever since. Not that Staley minds.
“I don’t miss time for this,” Staley recently told reporters while pointing to his nose. “No time is missed for this. I’m a tough guy.”
Staley’s wound is a great representation of the smash-mouth style of play the 49ers have used throughout the preseason. In the two exhibition games thus far, San Francisco leads the league with 189 rushing yards per game, showcasing its deep stable of tailbacks.
Not only is it a function of the added depth at the position – namely Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James and Rock Cartwright – but the gaudy rushing totals also reflect the offense’s development under second-year coordinator Greg Roman.
“We’re much further along than we were last year,” Staley said. “Last year we were just diving into the playbook and trying to wrap our head around the concepts and memorize the play calls and everything like that, installing another playbook. Now we’re very familiar with the system and very familiar with what we’re trying to accomplish and you’re seeing it on all sides of the ball.”
Staley has established himself as the vocal leader of the 49ers offensive line in recent years and earned his first Pro Bowl berth following last season.
In the two seasons since Mike Iupati was drafted to the team’s starting left guard, Staley has developed good chemistry with this partner on the left side of the line. Iupati has started all 32 games of his NFL career and it’s clear he’s benefitting from a full year in Roman’s system.
“You can see mentally, he’s a lot sharper,” Staley said. “He’s a lot more confident and a lot more comfortable out there.”
Aside from the continuity on the o-line, Staley is also excited about the new weapons like Randy Moss and Mario Manningham that the 49ers front office added via free agency this year.
“I think all the guys that we added are going to have huge roles for us and make us a better team,” Staley said. “Really excited about that.”
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