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Trent Williams is unfair, and Kyle Shanahan knows it

There’s something about a coach using his All-Pro starting left tackle as a fullback that feels surprising and downright diabolical. Leave it Kyle Shanahan and Trent Williams to go there.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

As Trent Williams prepares to wrap up what might be the absolute most remarkable season for a left tackle in the history of the sport, collecting a highlight reel of soul-stealing blocks in both the pass and run game, he seemingly tied a big bow around his entire 2021 campaign against the Packers.

The 6’5” 320-pounder, who’s been known to run a sub-5 second 40-yard dash, has consistently proven to be the elite of the elite when it comes to athleticism at his position. On Saturday night, Williams took things to a completely different level when Kyle Shanahan found a new way to use his freaky one-of-a-kind ability.

Down seven with mere minutes left in the second quarter and facing an important 3rd&1, Shanahan dialed up a call that moved his All-Pro lineman to fullback. Before the snap, Williams goes in motion and gets himself up to top speed. First, he turns the corner and absolutely obliterates a defender, freeing up Charlie Woerner, then finds another man to send back a good five yards.

Truly, the only way to appreciate this physical feat is to see it from multiple angles. First, as you’ll see, Williams uses his full head of steam to flatten Rashan Gary, a player who similarly measures at 6’5” and weighs in at 277 pounds, sending him to the ground in a crumpled heap. This might be the most effective blocking pass-off in history, as Woerner’s then able to easily move over to take on another man, propelled by Williams’ bump.

After that, not content to simply erase one man from the play, Williams gets to the next level, uses his remaining momentum, even while losing his footing, to bench press all 235 pounds of De’Vondre Campbell, sending him backward and out of the play. This requires an absurd, borderline otherworldly combination of speed, strength, and balance.

It’s moments like these that really make you appreciate the uniqueness of a player like Trent Williams and the ingenuity of Kyle Shanahan to utilize him this way. It takes the exact kind of marriage between skillset and strategic mind even to consider such a concept, and a whole lot of gumption to bring it out in a do-or-die moment during a survive-and-advance game.

There’s perhaps no more indicative trait of a great coach than how he manages his great players. Does he consistently put them in a position to succeed? Does he elevate them with his play design and calling? Usually, it’s easy to tell because you can easily see and quantify the work of skill players. Leave it to Kyle Shanahan to dream up new ways to use his offense’s biggest asset, who just so happens to be a left tackle.