There is a myriad of paths the 49ers could take this offseason, as we’ve discussed. Our own Kyle Posey has written about three of them. Whichever path you believe the Niners will choose to trod this offseason, bringing back Trent Williams is treated as a given, despite having to pay him around $20 million per year. It’s easy to say that, but what does a contract for arguably the best left tackle in football actually look like, and what ripple effects will that have? Niner Nate, Leo Luna, and KNBR 49ers beat writer Jake Hutchinson discussed those possibilities on today’s Niner Nate-tion Podcast.
“I don’t really see a scenario where he doesn’t come back,” Hutchinson said, “To me, the sticking point is gonna be what does he take year one? That’s going to be massive. The 49ers are really, really going to need him to come back at like $15 million in that first year. I think the deal is something like four years, $82-84 million, in that range. He’s going to test free agency so the market’s going to be out there, but he clearly wants to stay. It’s not like he’s going to take a pay cut because he’s still going to make $20 million a year, but he might structure it a way that’s a little more friendly to the team. I think they need that. I think it’s going to come in like $15 million in that first year, and then in year two and three it hits them pretty hard.”
That’s what makes this offseason so difficult for the 49ers. It’s not only the number of decisions they’re going to have to make in a relatively short period of time but also the order in which the dominoes fall. If Trent Williams decides he wants to take his time in free agency, hold Zoom calls with multiple teams, hear pitches from players, etc., the 49ers could really be in a tough spot. They need to know what’s happening with Trent one way or the other because of the limited salary cap space they’re working with.
Now, the 49ers could put a time limit on their offer to Williams, much like the Colts did with their trade offer for Carson Wentz, but that could also make Trent more likely to walk away, which would obviously be bad for the team.
Either way, Williams represents a fork in the road of San Francisco’s offseason plans. If he signs, the team goes one way, but if he doesn’t, they walk down an entirely different avenue that’s only available to them without a big left tackle contract.
Take a listen to today’s episode and you’ll hear the whole conversation, including a good sign for Williams’ return to the team. You can hear it here, or anywhere podcasts are a thing.
Other topics in today’s episode
- Is someone pushing Jimmy Garoppolo away from the 49ers?
- Who is the 49ers free agent that fans are giving enough credit to?