Why Williams has sights set on playing for 49ers until he's 40

49ers' Trent Williams

Age is just a number for Trent Williams.

The eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle officially re-signed with the 49ers on Tuesday, inking a six-year, $138 million contract. Williams doesn't think it's a stretch he'll finish the deal, sharing that he views it as an incentive.

“Those last years with the numbers being what they are, I think it’s an incentive for me to not get complacent and say, ‘Hey I’ve given this league 15 years, maybe I should hang it up,’" Williams said via video conference with Bay Area media. “That keeps the fire burning on both sides.” 

Williams turns 33 in July, and he felt rejuvenated during his first season with the 49ers after not playing in 2019. Pro Football Focus rated him the NFL's top left tackle in 2020, and Williams feels he has quite a few games left in the tank.

The 49ers' franchise left tackle doesn't aspire to play at an elite level. He expects it. As long as Williams feels his body can perform, the No. 4 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft is set to protect 49ers quarterbacks' blind side.

Williams compared his potential future to other longtime tackles who have played well into their late thirties like 15-year veteran Andrew Whitworth and 17-year vet Jason Peters, both of whom are 39.

“Playing until 40 is well within reach and the way I feel right now, I feel l do have six years in my body, but I’m not going to be unrealistic,” Williams said. “Got to take it one day at a time and continue to plug away at it, but that is the goal, so I have something to prove.”

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Williams’ belief in himself matches the 49ers' hopes to keep the left tackle around for the rest of his career. The former Oklahoma Sooner appreciates the club’s confidence he can continue to reach his high level of the previous 10 seasons.

The well-decorated tackle believes players at his position can have such long careers because of advancements in treatment and medicine, and because of their placement along the offensive line. Playing in space, predominantly 1-on-1, prevents the injuries usually seen with interior linemen.

Regardless of injuries, the only reason Williams might stop playing before his contract runs out is if he is unable to match his own lofty expectations.

“I never intend on being below average, and then if I do, I will hang the cleats up,” Williams said. “Can I play to a high level until I’m 40? We’ll see.”

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