Williams admits COVID-19 battle was toughest fight of career


At 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, Trent Williams appears indestructible. 

The Pro Bowl left tackle is known for his athleticism, power and speed, but something that Williams couldn’t even see, gave him one of the most challenging battles of his NFL career. 

It was a long 14-day stretch for Williams, who tested positive for COVID-19 following the 49ers' Week 10 loss in New Orleans. The 10-year NFL veteran is no stranger to invisible opponents -- his battle with cancer kept him off the field for the entire 2019 NFL season. 

On Saturday, Williams revealed that fighting COVID-19 might have been more mentally grueling than cancer, just because of his medical history. 

“It was the toughest thing I’ve had to do in my NFL career,” Williams said. “Not only did I have 14 days of literally nothing, I spent that time battling COVID. I wasn’t just sitting on the couch just having iced lemonade, enjoying the newspaper.

“It was stressful times because you never know how all that is going to affect you, and nobody knows until it actually runs its course."

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Williams is categorized as high-risk for COVID-19, not just as a cancer survivor, but as an asthmatic. Knowing that the virus could be detrimental to his respiratory system was frightening. 

“The time it took to just mentally prepare for what was going to happen, and then to get my body over it,” Williams said. “That, in and of itself took seven to eight days.”  


Playing a full game facing the Los Angeles Rams after not stepping foot on a field since the New Orleans game presented an enormous physical challenge, but Williams was determined to give it go. 

The 49ers medical staff told Williams on the Thursday prior to playing the Rams that he had a chance to suit up for the game, and then confirmed he was cleared to play the day before. After nearly two weeks of self-quarantining and no conditioning, Williams was happily surprised but also a little nervous. 

“I didn’t have much warning,” Williams said. “I honestly didn’t expect to play, I wanted to and knew it was possible, so I was going to give it a go.”

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Playing over 70 offensive plays after two weeks away was daunting, but Williams said the training staff did everything they could to help him get prepared and make it through the matchup in Los Angeles.

“It was more taxing on me mentally that it was physically, just not knowing the depth that it could go to, and coming off of the year I had in ’19 where things didn’t really go my way,” Williams said. “I was kind of expecting this COVID deal to take the same turn, but luckily I’m blessed and I got through it, little to no effect from it now. 

“I’m just thankful because I know there are a lot of people out there who battled this virus and it didn’t end so well for them, so I never want to overlook that.”