Trent Williams believes he has picked up this season where he left off after an 18-month absence from football.
Williams, 32, a seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle during nine seasons in Washington, sees an-even-better player when he turns on the recent video from his first season with the 49ers.
And that is saying something for a player who says he expects himself to be the “gold standard” for NFL offensive tackles.
“For me, I’m always just trying to ascend,” Williams said on 49ers Talk. “And I think I can continue to ascend. The only way you verify that is by watching your play. I go back and watch games from four or five years ago.
"I want to see the difference in me, my vertical set or my angle set -- how did it look in 2013 or 2014 as opposed to how it works now? I’m always trying to look at my old product and trying to tweak the new product.”
Williams is graded as the No. 2 left tackle in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. He has generally not been disappointed when he sits down to dissect his own game this season, he said.
“I feel like I look a little better,” Williams said. “Definitely, more assertive. The mind is a little sharper every year. People expect the body to slow down, but the mind speeds up. The more knowledge you can gain about this game and you never know everything.
“I think I’m far-stronger than I’ve ever been. And probably moving faster than I’ve ever been in my entire career.”
He will be looking to add to his highlight reel on Sunday against his former team, as the 49ers face Washington in a Week 14 game in Glendale, Arizona.
Williams did not play last season after dealing with a scary health condition when he underwent surgery to remove a cancerous growth on his scalp. The condition went undiagnosed for more than five years while he was in Washington.
He requested a trade in 2019. Finally, he found a new team with a deal that was completed shortly before the final day of the NFL draft. The 49ers finalized the trade for Williams to step into the left tackle position to replace Joe Staley, who had informed the club of his decision to retire.
Williams rejoined a couple of influential individuals from his years with Washington: His first offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, and his first offensive line coach, Chris Foerster, with the 49ers. That familiarity made for a smoother transition to the 49ers.
Williams is signed only through this season. He said he plans to continue his career in 2021 with a contender and avoid the kind of organization for which he worked for most of his NFL career.
What is he looking for?
“I’m looking for the right fit,” Williams said. “It’s kind of hard to answer. I’ve never been in that position before, to where I was even close to being a free agent. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m looking for, but I know what I’m not looking for.”
So what is he not looking for?
“I don’t want to have to go and rebuild,” Willams answered. “I don’t want to be a part of a toxic situation. I just want to be with a bunch of like-minded fellas who (believe) winning is the most-important thing and just trying to continue to build legacies and thrive as a team.
"If that’s not the most important thing, I don’t think that’s the right place for me.”