With the football world in a bit of a dead period between minicamp and training camp, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the 2021 season and highlight the most outstanding individual performances we saw from 49ers players during this past season.
The factors I used to create this list include how did each performance hold up with the eye test. After going back and watching the game film, was it as impressive now as it was at the time?
I also heavily weighed the game’s impact, meaning the stakes of each contest played a pivotal role in how these rankings ultimately played out—finally, good old-fashioned statistics. While the eye test was the primary factor being weighed, I also made it a point to place enough emphasis on the objective numbers a player posted in their respective games.
So without further ado, let’s kick this off with the #10 spot on the list, which belongs to
Trent Williams, Week 10 @ Cincinnati
The 49ers came into this game at 6-6, coming off a brutal loss in Seattle the week prior. Heading into this matchup with the Bengals, the 49ers could not afford to lose any of the ground they had made up in the NFC playoff race over the last month that saw them win three games in a row before falling to the Seahawks.
Week 10 wasn’t quite a “must-win” game in the traditional sense of the word. But this one was still important.
While there were a handful of very impactful performances in this game (including another one that made this list), the master class put on by Williams is what the focus will be for this spot.
Cincinnati came into this contest with one of the best defensive fronts in football, boasting a defense that ranked top 5 in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game and hadn’t allowed a team to rush for over 100 yards in a game in over a month.
Against this tough Bengals rushing defense, the 49ers rushing attack averaged 5.6 yards per carry when running behind Williams on the left side. Williams regularly made light work of his opposition and mauled his way into the second level to clear a path for 49ers ball carriers.
On top of his dominance in the run game, Williams also put together a phenomenal performance in pass protection. On 47 pass-blocking snaps in this game, Williams only surrendered one pressure. ONE! Even with the absence of Trey Hendrickson in the second half, the Bengals still possessed a potent pass-rushing unit, which Williams stonewalled over the course of this game while protecting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Forty-seven pass-blocking snaps against one of the most productive pass-rushing units in the league, and Williams didn’t allow the player he was blocking to touch Garoppolo even once.
In 2021 Williams had one of the most impressive seasons ever for an offensive lineman, so admittedly it was difficult singling out one performance out of such an incredible body of work. I ultimately decided on this particular game for a couple of reasons.
Number one, due to the quality of competition, the Bengals nearly won Super Bowl 56 and were one of the more talented teams in the entire NFL last season.
Number two was the sheer volume of pass-blocking snaps with only one hiccup on the singular pressure Williams allowed. That would translate to roughly 2.12 pressures allowed over a sample of 100 snaps in pass protection—just flat-out incredible.
Stay tuned for #9 on the list, coming soon.