JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — For the first time in his 11-year NFL career, Trent Williams reported eligible as a receiver in a game.
Early in the third quarter of the 49ers' 30-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field, the Pro Bowl left tackle ran toward the right corner of the end zone. Jimmy Garoppolo’s pass sailed high, just out of reach of Williams, who was double-covered.
“Aww, man,” Garoppolo said after the game, “I told him, ‘I was throwing it to you whether you were triple-, quadruple-covered, whatever.’ The catches he made in practice, he had nice one-hander in practice. He can do it. We will save that one for him.”
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game that Williams has asked for a touchdown play since their time together in Washington. Shanahan has hesitated because, per NFL rules, a lineman who reports as eligible isn't allowed to be on the field for the next play. Shanahan never wants his offense to be on the field without the star left tackle.
Finally, over a decade later, Shanahan made it a reality for Williams.
“He’s never had one, and he keeps telling me that,” Shanahan said. “He’s probably as good of a tackle as you could ever have to run a route. It was close, he did a good job. I thought he got tugged a little bit. I know he did, he was calling for it.
“I told him he didn’t get open like he always promised me he would. He’s going to keep practicing that route.”
The entire 49ers offense hoped the play would end with Williams scoring his first TD. George Kittle joked that he wanted to see multiple defenders on the left tackle, which conversely would help the tight end be open.
While the play didn’t work out for Williams, Garoppolo connected with Kittle on the next play for a 1-yard touchdown. The All-Pro tight end has another idea to help the left tackle score.
“It was awesome,” Kittle said. “Just the fact that we had it up for Trent. I hope we continue to try to get him a touchdown. I think we should just put him in at fullback and have him do a fullback dive.”
Now that Williams has had a chance at a touchdown in a game, he sees a receiver’s job a little differently. He definitely believed a penalty should've been called on the play.
“Come on, man,” Williams said laughing. “I don’t know why my coach didn’t challenge that or something. I know that wasn’t legal.
"Man, it is such a blur, but once I saw Jimmy throw it, I’m like, ‘This is my time now. I got to go up and get this.’ But as soon as I left the ground, I got blasted. I don’t know who hit me. I felt like it was 10 people right there.
“It’s definitely harder than it looks. I have a different respect for receivers now. I was wide freaking open in practice. I definitely didn’t expect to be double-covered. I don’t think I sold it long enough. I think I was a little too excited to leak out, so I got to stick in there a little bit.”
Expect Shanahan to eventually help his left tackle’s dream of scoring a touchdown come true at some point in his career. It’s only a matter of time.