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Throwback Thursday: When the 49ers fleeced Washington for Trent Williams

Even in hindsight, the deal to acquire Trent Williams was highway robbery for the 49ers

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The 49ers return to practice Thursday. One player that we don’t have to worry about playing up to their talent level is Trent Williams. Objectively, the best offensive lineman in the NFL, and arguably one of the best players, has made his mark on the Niners for three seasons.

For as many arguments as there are about how Kyle Shanahan can’t find a quarterback, I wanted to pivot to Williams, who came to San Francisco in what turned out to be a gift of a trade.

The Washington Football Team wasn’t headed anywhere. After the trade, Williams’s agent, Vincent Taylor, said Trent was ready to “get back to competing in the NFL.” Trent said himself that he was, “glad it’s over.”

Williams wasn’t always destined to be a 49er, though. It took Joe Staley retiring to set the wheels in motion for San Francisco’s general manager John Lynch and the front office. Reports surfaced that Williams was destined to be a Minnesota Viking and Washington had nearly reached an agreement. That was until Williams told the team he didn’t want to play for the Vikes.

Williams had a say in where he’d play, and Staley’s retirement was the perfect storm. The lack of draft capital the 49ers had to give up for an All-world left tackle is puzzling to this day. San Francisco received Williams in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2020 and a third-round pick in 2021.

While the Niners have made their mark at finding gems in the fifth-round, that’s far from the norm. Here’s how the trade looks as of today:

49ers get:
Trent Williams

Washington gets:
C Keith Ismael
CB Benjamin St-Juste

Ismael is on the 49ers roster and in camp with the team. He played sparingly as a rookie, and 382 snaps for Washington in 2021, but did not play last year.

St-Juste played 318 snaps as a rookie, but didn’t play after Week 9. He was effectively a starter last year, but did miss six games.

During the three-year stretch, Williams has missed ten games, but has found himself as an All-Pro or Pro Bowler and cemented himself as the best player at his position.