Seven-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Trent Williams comes to the 49ers with one year remaining on his contract.
Williams’ status with the 49ers for the 2021 season is something that will be addressed at some point down the road. Right now, it's all about the 2020 season. The 49ers traded a fifth-round pick this year and a third-round selection next year to acquire Williams from Washington.
The important thing for the 49ers last week was to find a proven replacement for left tackle Joe Staley, who decided to retire due to physical issues, including a “deteriorating neck condition” and “constant discomfort.” Staley played 13 seasons for the 49ers. His last 12 seasons he started every game in which he appeared at left tackle.
The window sill is open for the 49ers to be a Super Bowl contender this season, but the organization felt it needed to add a player to protect quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s blind side who could offset the loss of Staley, an NFL All-Decade selection.
“I think the plan was to land him right now and then let the rest kind of work itself out,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said of the deal to acquire Williams.
Williams, 31, enters the final year of his contract. He was scheduled to make $12.5 million in base salary with an additional $250,000 available in per-game roster bonuses.
The 49ers will determine which way they wish to go at left tackle after being around Williams for a season. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next March.
“I think it's always an advantage when you get someone in the building, on your roster,” Lynch said. “Now, you've got a chance and we'll get a really good look at him. We'll see where the rest of our team is at.
“But right now, we're just ecstatic that we were able to pull it off and at a really opportune time. You're losing a great player like Joe at a very critical position. To be able to have everything line up. He was available right then, and to be able to land him is very fortuitous for us. We're very excited about that.”
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Coach Kyle Shanahan was Washington’s offensive coordinator, under his head-coaching father, Mike, in 2010 when Washington selected Williams with the No. 4 overall draft pick. Williams played four seasons in Shanahan’s scheme. Shanahan said Williams and Staley have similar skillsets.
“They're two of the most athletic guys that I have ever been around at that position and they can run and are great for our scheme,” Shanahan said.
Williams did not play in 2019 after his relationship with the Washington organization completely dissolved. He was upset about the team’s diagnosis and handling of a cancerous growth on his scalp, which was botched. And Williams was apparently not satisfied with his contract, either. He requested a trade, which never materialized last season. After reporting to the team in October, he went on the non-football injury list.
Shanahan believes the year of inactivity will fuel Williams to prove he is the same player the NFL last saw when Williams stepped on the field during the 2018 season.
“He's a great dude, too,” Shanahan said of Williams. “I love the guy and I was able to talk him (Saturday) for the first time in a while and congratulate him. I know he's very fresh and is hungry and eager to get back to football as anyone I've ever talked to.
“Trent’s been out of football for a year-and-a-half, and Trent made it clear, I think, to everyone he wants to come back and didn't want to do a (new) deal right away. He really wanted to play and try to get back into it and see where he was at with the rest of the league and if he can pick up where he left off.”