49ers' Williams opens up about life-threatening cancer battle


Trent Williams thought he was never going to play football again. 

When medical professionals told him he didn’t have long to live, it was a wake-up call for the 49ers' offensive tackle

“I was mortified, scared, didn’t know what to expect,” Williams said while opening up about his battle with cancer on The Adam Schefter Podcast. 

At the time, Williams was a standout offensive tackle in Washington, had made seven straight Pro Bowl appearances from 2012 to 2018, and as he put it: “felt untouchable”. 

But after being diagnosed with cancer, a lot of things changed for the 6-foot-5, 318-pound tackle -- fast. 

With tears coming down their faces, doctors and nurses explained to Williams that football was probably the least of his worries. 

Williams was told to get his “affairs in order” and get closer to the things that mattered most to him.

“I felt broken, I felt dead,” he said. “At that time I felt like it was over. I instantly thought about how my kids would feel not having a father, not being there to walk them down the aisle.” 

After visiting a specialist in Chicago, Williams immediately underwent surgery to remove the tumor in his head before it spread. 

That’s when a little ray of hope poked through. 

“At that time I wasn’t thinking about football,” Williams said. “I thought football was over with.” 


And after undergoing a second surgery, Williams finally got his answer when he woke up. 

“One of the first questions I asked was will I be able to play again,” he said. “When they told me I could, I was in a lot of pain but I went to sleep comfortably knowing I had a chance to come back.” 

And after having his life and career hanging on by a thread, Williams beat cancer. 

He is now considered one of the best tackles in the NFL, PFF’s highest-ranked player in the league, and playing his best football yet, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan. 

Williams was named to the Pro Bowl for his eighth straight season in his first year with the 49ers. 

When asked how his journey with cancer changed the way he approaches the game today, it took the 33-year-old nearly twenty seconds to gather his response. 

A couple of sighs and deep breaths later, Schefter broke the silence. 

“It’s a lot, right?” 

“Yeah,” he responded. 

“Every Sunday I give thanks,” he said. “I just know how close it was and I’ve been there.” 

Williams’ soon-to-come documentary, "SILVERBACK: The Trent Williams Story," will dive deeper into his journey and comeback. The documentary will be released on Dec. 14.

The Niners have won four of their last five games and sparked a momentum that was absent at the beginning of the season. 

Williams said he loves playing in the Bay. 

"It's just a joy coming to work every day for a team that works as hard as they do -- as we do -- with a coach that's as smart as the coach that we have, with owners that care as much as our owners care, a GM that's hands-on and as relatable as John Lynch is,” he said.

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