The 49ers head into their 2020 season finale with a 6-9 record, but Trent Williams believes only one factor kept the team from a repeat appearance in the Super Bowl.
“Staying healthy,” Williams said on Thursday. “I honestly think if we had the same team that we opened up camp with, obviously getting Deebo back, I honestly think that we would be fighting for the No. 1 seed right now. I put our healthy roster up against anybody’s roster.”
The 49ers head into their final game against the Seattle Seahawks with 15 players on injured reserve and another six already ruled out for the finale. The sheer numbers alone have made it a challenge for the team to field a full 48 players on game day. What's even more astonishing than the sheer volume of injuries is the caliber of players the 49ers have lost.
Losing Nick Bosa, Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert for multiple games is enough to change the course of a season, but that was just the tip of the iceberg for the 49ers. The club lost nearly an entire starting lineup on both sides of the ball.
“It sucks losing games,” Williams said. "It sucks that we got a Super Bowl roster and it sucks that we weren’t able to put those guys on the field together as many times as we needed to have a successful season.”
Still, Williams is thankful to be back on the field after missing the entire 2019 season following the removal of a cancerous growth from his head. At one point, the eight-time Pro Bowl tackle thought he may have to retire.
“It’s been a roller coaster to be honest, but I was just so blessed to be back on the field,” Williams said. “I was just so blessed to put back on my cleats and strap my helmet back up and enjoy the camaraderie of the locker room.
“It was bittersweet. It sucks that we didn’t fulfill our potential but it was definitely sweet getting back out there with the guys, feeling that adrenaline rush again of playing football and just being the person I believe that God designed me to be.”
Williams will become a free agent in the offseason and his contract is structured prohibiting the team’s ability to use the franchise tag on him. Even after a long absence from the game, he has proven he is worthy of a top-tier contract.
Both the 49ers and Williams have expressed a desire to work out a long-term deal, but it will be a challenge with the salary cap expected to drop in 2021. All signs point to the 49ers doing everything they can to make it happen. The 49ers already restructured Robbie Gould’s contract in the form of an extension which the kicker signed last week
At 32-years of age, the left tackle knows that his next contract could be his last chance at a huge payday. One thing the 49ers have going for them is the caliber of the roster which is at the top of Williams' criteria for deciding his NFL future.
“It goes right up at the top,” Williams said. “Definitely don’t want to be part of a rebuilding process. I’m a little too long in the tooth for that. I think that will be a very important thing to me.”
The 49ers also do not have to fear that Williams may lose his passion for the game and not play out the length of his contract. Playing football is something the veteran lineman will not take for granted.
“A few years ago I would have told you that maybe I wanted to be the one to walk out,” Williams said. “I didn’t want to be pushed out the door. I would have wanted to leave on top.
“Now, going through what I went through, taking a year off of football, thinking that my career was already over, now, I feel like they may have to scrape me off the field. I might be 40 trying to get down in a stance.”