When the San Francisco 49ers found out they were losing all-everything left tackle Joe Staley to retirement, the front office wasted no time in acquiring seven-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams, who signed his contract in late June. Williams has played under Kyle Shanahan in Washington as well as a few other coaches that are currently on the Niners staff.
Williams last played a regular-season snap in Week 17 of 2018. Williams started in 13 games that season. Williams hadn’t started 13 games before that since 2015. Williams is an incredible player. He was making Pro Bowls when there was still some relevance to the game. On the field, Williams has a reputation for being dominant, and you cannot take that away from him. San Francisco traded a third and a fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft in hopes of getting a left tackle for 19 games and beyond. The team is “going all in” on Williams as the backups consist of Shon Coleman, who missed all of 2019 with an injury, and Justin Skule, a sixth-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft. The drop-off at left tackle is steep for the 49ers.
Age: 31 (turns 32 on July 19)
Weight: 318 pounds
Experience: Nine accrued seasons
Williams is on a one-year deal. His base salary in 2020 will be $12.5 million, with a per-game roster bonus of $250,000. Will Williams be a one-year rental ala Emmanuel Sanders? The NFL Draft is supposedly deep for left tackles, and age and salary could play a big factor. I have a sneaky suspicion Williams will make it hard for Shanahan to move on from him after this season.
What to expect in 2020
Your guess is as good as mine. We can only go off history. At any point during a Washington game over the past handful of years, when No. 71 was at left tackle, he was generally the best player on the field. Not the best lineman, but best player. Williams is that good at football, and I don’t think 49ers fans realize how special of a player he is just yet. A slew of injuries makes it hard to be fully invested in Williams’s comeback. That’s the vibe I’ve gotten from fans, anyway.
A year of not playing football could be the best thing to ever happen to Williams. Now, he enters 2020 fully healthy and rejuvenated. Williams told reporters he feels “25 again” and seeing some of his workout videos, it’s hard to argue. He’s a gifted athlete with the strength that’s unmatched. Now that Williams is into his 30s, he understands how to play the game without relying on his physical gifts alone.
I’m in the camp that believes Williams will have a career year. Motivation plays a big part, as Williams knows this is essentially his last chance to prove himself. The 49ers will play in a handful of primetime games, likely make the playoffs and hopefully have a deep playoff run. Trent has never entered a season playing for a team where he could say that. I’m expecting big things from the Niners’ new left tackle.