The calendar is creeping toward March 17, the official start of the NFL league year.
The 49ers have a number of issues they need to address this offseason when trades and signings can become official, including what to do with respected veteran tackle Trent Williams.
Richard Sherman and the 49ers have already publicly split, but there is mutual interest between San Francisco and Williams in a reunion. The two recently appeared on "The Cris Collinsworth Podcast Featuring Richard Sherman,” where Sherman said that he can see Williams re-signing with the 49ers on long-term deal.
"I've got him staying in San Francisco for The Faithful," Sherman said. "I think he stays in San Francisco. I think he makes you guys happy for another five, six years, and gets his gold jacket, and then decides whether he wants it in Washington or San Francisco."
That scenario sounded good to Williams.
"That's not a bad take, fellas," the eight-time Pro Bowl tackle responded. "That's not a bad take. Y'all barking up the right tree."
When the Arizona Cardinals agreed to terms with J.J. Watt, re-signing Williams to a contract extension became even more important for the 49ers. The hulking tackle has made the Pro Bowl in his last eight seasons and will likely command a big multi-year payday despite the fact he’ll turn 33 on July 19.
How much will it cost to retain Williams? The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami estimated that the 49ers will sign Williams to a whopping four-year, $95 million extension.
“That would reset the left-tackle market, and that’s not normal for a player who might be past his prime by the middle of this deal,” Kawakami wrote. “With an annual average salary exceeding $23 million, I’d guess the guaranteed portion of a deal like this would be in the $46-million range, which is a ton for someone who will turn 33 before the next training camp.”
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Kawakami also drew parallels to the 49ers-George Kittle situation last year.
“Just as with Kittle, the 49ers have to get a Williams deal done to maintain their own vision of who they are and what they’ve built,” Kawakami wrote. “There is no way the 49ers can think of themselves as solid Super Bowl contenders if they don’t have a strong left tackle and Williams is, by far, the best fit for this.”
With Willams’ comments, it appears the onus will be on the 49ers to make it work financially. They are expected to have the ninth-most salary cap room this offseason, but a franchise left tackle is expensive.