After more than a year away from football, Trent Williams chose to make 2020 a reunion season.
The seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle decided the best destination for his final year before becoming a free agent would be with the 49ers and coach Kyle Shanahan. The two spent time together in Washington when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator under his father, Mike.
Williams agreed to a restructured contract with the 49ers that prevents him from being franchise tagged by the team. The two parties would need to come to an agreement before the March 2021 deadline or he will hit the open market.
Reaching a long-term deal will be a challenge for the 49ers and Williams with the salary cap certain to go down in 2021. Nonetheless, Shanahan has been very open about his desire to keep Williams in the building well past his one-year agreement with the club.
“Trent knows how I feel about him, and I think Trent feels the same,” Shanahan said in November. “Hopefully it makes sense for him to stay here. I know it makes sense for us. Trent is very important to me and very important to our team, and someone I want around here for a while."
The left tackle wisely chose to wait until after his comeback season to agree to a long-term deal, and he effectively has increased his value, proving he still has what it takes to protect a quarterback’s blindside.
Williams’ price tag might be too high for the 49ers. Last month, the Green Bay Packers agreed to a four-year contract extension with left tackle David Bakhtiari worth $105.5 million, making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.
With contacts for several free agents -- including linebacker Fred Warner -- on the to-do list, paying Williams a comparable salary might not be feasible for the 49ers. Still, Williams has been clear that he would prefer to stay with San Francisco for the foreseeable future.
“Before I came here, that was one of the things I kind of had in my head that this could be a long-term destination for me and I’m very much ok with that,” Williams said Saturday. “Obviously that’s business that’s for 2021 and I just try to keep my mind on 2020 and try to get us to the big dance and try to make another run at it. The rest will take care of itself.”