Joe Staley has made consecutive Pro Bowls, but the starting left tackle knows how he can take his playing ability to the next level in his seventh season.
San Francisco's blindside protector wants to be at his absolute best on Sept. 8, the 49ers home opener against the Green Bay Packers.
"I'm really focused on being in mid-season form for the first game," Staley said on Saturday.
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound tackle will match up again with Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews. The Pro Bowl defender beat Staley for 2.5 sacks in the 2012 season opener, but was neutralized when the team's met again in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, a lopsided 49ers victory.
Staley bounced back from Week 1, a game where he battled for most of the game with a large cut at the bridge of his nose. Even with the tough matchup to begin the year, Staley earned second-team All-Pro honors.
Staley believed 2012 was his best season in his 49ers career, but knows he wants to play at that high level to start this coming season.
"I thought I played well, but there's things I can improve on," Staley said. "I got off to a slow start last year, it took me a few games to get in a groove. That's something I can challenge myself to get better with."
Staley's been pushing himself throughout the first week of 49ers training camp. It's been easily noticed by his offensive coordinator, Greg Roman.
"Joe's playing at an extremely high level," San Francisco's creative play-caller said. "The thing that's so exciting is he's tackling every individual drill, every meeting, like he would if he was a rookie.
"He's just itching to get better, itching to be successful. I think our offensive line has grown, matured, and hopefully ready to take the next step and play with the level of cohesion that we would expect out of them."
For his part, Staley is comfortable in Roman's system. The stability of having Roman for a third consecutive season is important to the offensive lineman who played for numerous offensive coordinators to begin his 49ers career.
"This is our third year in the system so we all feel very comfortable," Staley said.
With that understanding of the offensive scheme, the 49ers are still looking to add new wrinkles to the system. Camp allows the offense the opportunity to test those new plays against one of the league's most respected defenses.
"We're doing some things here and there just to evolve as an offense, to try and stay ahead of the curb," Staley noted. "There's a lot of carryover from the last couple of years and guys have a better understanding and are mastering it.
"We know what to expect and you can spend a lot more time not worrying about memorizing plays, but work on techniques."
For the rest of camp, Staley is focused on bringing maximum effort in every drill, team period and meeting.
"Always working every single day, 'deliver at practice,' that's what I like to say, not go through the motions," Staley said. "I really take a part of my game, something I want to work on, and I put a lot of focus on that."
Leaders like Staley have established a standard of all-out effort for the offensive line.
Roman loves to see it, too.
"These guys are constantly pushing the standard," the offensive coordinator said. "When we got here, I noticed a pretty incredible culture amongst our defensive line. It was very evident. I really think our offensive line is growing into that type of culture. It's really exciting to see."