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Niners LT Joe Staley 'not worried' about contract year

While young stars with expiring contracts around the league are sitting out voluntary workouts, Joe Staley was at the San Francisco 49ers' facility this week.

The 34-year-old left tackle is entering the final season of a six-year deal signed in 2014. While contract negotiations or conversations with the 49ers have not begun, Staley is not worried about his future with the team.

"I've made it very clear to everybody that I want to play as long as I can," Staley said this week, per the Sacramento Bee. "I still love the game, still feel like I can play at a high level. Still feel like I'm valued on the football team. I know it's my last year under contract, but I'm not worried about that. I'm just going to go out there and try and do everything I can to help us win games with this team."

Unlike players like Jalen Ramsey and Frank Clark who are working out away from their respective teams due to reasons contractual and otherwise, Staley added that he prefers to spend voluntary workouts with his teammates.

"I just love being around everybody," Staley added. "I don't know -- I'd much rather be here than somewhere else. For me, too, I need the structure. I'm used to the structure. ... Not to say that I can't manage my time away from here when I'm not, because I do when I'm down in San Diego. I just enjoy being around the guys. It was never a thought for me to be anywhere else."

Staley looks to reap $8.75 million in earnings and count $11 million against San Francisco's cap in 2019, making him the 16th highest-paid left tackle this season. The six-time Pro Bowler has seen his annual salary eclipsed in recent years by younger free agents with less pedigree like Nate Solder, Trent Brown and Donovan Smith (zero combined Pro Bowls).

If San Francisco is going to move on from the aging veteran after this season -- or vice versa -- it hasn't planned accordingly. The 49ers finally drafted a worthy bookend in Mike McGlinchey last season, but currently employ Shon Coleman, Christian DiLauro and Daniel Brunskill as backups.

Staley is a reliable veteran presence, missing just four regular-season games since 2011, but will the aging tackle prove vital to San Francisco's success past this, the final year of his deal? That's for John Lynch and Co. to decide. That is, unless Staley makes that decision for them.

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