49ers news: Joe Staley isn’t buying Russell Wilson-Broncos hype

Left tackle Joe Staley #74 of the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Left tackle Joe Staley #74 of the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The 49ers are more than happy to see Russell Wilson out of the NFC West, but Niners legend Joe Staley doesn’t think the Broncos are infinitely better after the blockbuster trade.

Leave it to now-retired San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley to speak his mind. Always loved that about him, and he certainly has the wherewithal to do it more frequently now as part of the team of analysts on NBC Sports Bay area’s television coverage of all things red and gold.

Staley surely had to be one of the many aligned with the Niners who were more than happy to see the Seattle Seahawks trade star quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos this week, drastically altering the balance of power within the NFC West and effectively putting an end to the San Francisco-Seattle rivalry that existed over the last 10 years.

One which Wilson and the Hawks essentially dominated, Wilson owning a career 17-4 record over the 49ers.

As the dust settles on the deal, the focus inevitably shifts to what kind of difference Wilson will make with his new team, a Broncos squad that finished dead last in the AFC West in back-to-back seasons and hasn’t had any likable options under center since Hall of Famer Peyton Manning retired after Denver’s victory in Super Bowl 50.

While the Broncos have a quality roster in place already, pretty much needing only some stability at quarterback, Staley isn’t exactly thinking Wilson will be a massive difference-maker.

If anything, Staley pretty much suggests Wilson is overrated.

49ers legend Joe Staley isn’t a ‘huge Russell Wilson believer’

Sure, much of the NFL world is thinking Wilson will put the Broncos squarely on the Super Bowl map this season and beyond, and it’s certainly a fair assessment.

“I don’t think he’s going to be a huge difference-maker everyone thinks he’s going to be.” – Joe Staley on Russell Wilson joining the Broncos

Staley, however, is much more bearish on the transaction, telling KNBR 680 the following:

"I’m not a huge Russell Wilson believer. I know there’s a lot of people that put him up in the top tier echelon of quarterbacks in the NFL over the last decade, but I think a lot of his success, if you go back to the years they were dominating us, it was more that defense. He was able to play a slower paced game and take those shots downfield, but you saw once that defense was kind of gone, the Legion of Boom was gone, they kind of started losing that pass rush, it was more a run of the mill defense and it was more on Russell Wilson’s shoulders."

Maybe Staley has a point. After all, following Seattle’s loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX in February of 2015, that vaunted defense began to slowly come apart. Wilson and the Seahawks, still perennial playoff contenders, never made it beyond the divisional round thereafter.

As far as the anticipated success Wilson might have in Denver, Staley isn’t buying that either:

"Even with all those weapons that he had. You look at DK Metcalf, one of the best receivers in the NFL. Tyler Lockett, who I think is better than anybody he has on Denver’s roster right now currently. I don’t know if he has the weapons around him to be successful in Denver. Also they don’t have draft picks cause they had to give all those draft picks up to get him out there."

Read More: Top 10 moments in 49ers-Seahawks rivalry

Wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick should help Wilson, though, and it is certainly arguable the Broncos will be vastly improved with Wilson under center instead of the more recent options of soon-to-be free-agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater or now-Seahawks QB Drew Lock.

However, in a stacked AFC West that features the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert and even the Las Vegas Raiders’ Derek Carr, Wilson isn’t exactly guaranteed to carry the Broncos to a division title right out of the gate.

“I don’t think he’s going to be a huge difference-maker everyone thinks he’s going to be,” Staley added.

Even though the Niners play Wilson and the Broncos this upcoming season, it almost matters not. San Francisco fans are just happy to see Wilson out of the NFC West.

Next. 13 best moments from Joe Staley's career. dark