San Francisco's Staley can laugh about his tears now

Sat Feb 2, 2013 3:30pm EST
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By Simon Evans

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - San Francisco 49ers tackle Joe Staley is a key component in the offensive line that will protect quarterback Colin Kaepernick in Sunday's Super Bowl but the two-time Pro Bowl selection initially hated the position so much he cried when switched.

It was in Staley's second year at Central Michigan University where he was told he was going to have to move to tackle by current Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and it was not a suggestion that was well received.

"I was a sprinter and all of that stuff. I was really fast. I ran a 21 in the 200. Then I got fat," Staley said.

"I played tight end my freshman year in college. Brian Kelly came in and said ‘We do not use tight ends in our offense but we want to keep you on the field in some way. We are going to move you to tackle.'

"I cried my eyes out. I am not afraid to admit it. I almost transferred but then stayed, gained weight, busted my butt and got drafted."

Staley arrived at college weighing 220 pounds (99.7 kg) but left 70 pounds (31.7 kg) heavier but he remained quick and he also learned how to play his new role well enough to be a first round pick by the Niners in 2007.

The self-belief may always have been present but it has been coupled with the acknowledgement that he had to learn and work if he was going to make it in the pros.

"I am still working at my craft. I came in with the mentality that came from high school. I was third-string my junior year in high school.   Continued...

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) rushes with the ball behind his tackle Joe Staley (74) during the second quarter of their NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in San Francisco, California, October 30, 2011. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach