49ers

Why Trent Williams could be 49ers upgrade over Joe Staley at left tackle

Why Trent Williams could be 49ers upgrade over Joe Staley at left tackle

For over a decade, Joe Staley was the one constant for the 49ers through myriad coaching and executive turnover. He spent 12 of his 13 seasons manning the blind side for quarterbacks from Shaun Hill to Jimmy Garoppolo.

General manager John Lynch made a big splash to try and fill the void left after Staley’s retirement during the NFL draft, as the 49ers acquired Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams from Washington for two picks. While Staley was one of the league’s best tackles for many years, those who have been around both players are confident the 49ers got an upgrade in Williams.

“Joe Staley is a really good tackle — don’t get me wrong,” former 49ers GM Scot McCloughan told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But he ain’t Trent Williams. He hasn’t been Trent Williams. And won’t be Trent Williams when Trent’s career is over and you compare them.”

McCloughan traded up with the New England Patriots to select Staley in the 2007 NFL Draft and was Williams’ GM in Washington from 2015 to 2016.

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Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay -- who also coached in Washington during Williams’ time there -- told NFL Network he needed to go “drink a couple more beers” after hearing San Francisco brought in the 320-pound tackle.

Williams is 31 years old and entering the final season of his current contract, so this could be a one-year rental for the 49ers. Nevertheless, McCloughan believes fans should expect big things from the O-line in 2020 with Williams aboard.

“Staley fit that offense to a T,” McCloughan said. “But they’re different players. Trent is so talented that he can play in any system. You want to play power football? He’s going to play power football, and he’s going to wear your ass down. You want to be play finesse football and dance out in space? He’ll do that with you all day. That’s why he’s so unique. These guys … they don’t come around very often.”

Staley’s place in 49ers lore is solidified, and there are few players as popular among the fans given his loyalty to the organization.

[RELATED: Trent Williams is 'best left tackle in football' when healthy]

But if Williams can return at 100 percent next season, the 49ers will have even fewer worries about Garoppolo’s blind side. Given Williams’ workout regimen this offseason, it’s not looking like he’s lost a step athletically.

McVay likely isn’t the only one already worried about facing the 49ers in 2020.

Watch 49ers' Javon Kinlaw replicate Aaron Donald knife training drill

Watch 49ers' Javon Kinlaw replicate Aaron Donald knife training drill

Javon Kinlaw isn't afraid of a few deadly weapons.

The 49ers rookie showed off a seemingly dangerous drill on social media Friday in a video posted by defensive line trainer Cam Spence.

You're correct, those are in fact a pair of knives being wielded and sent in Kinlaw's direction as he bats them away. We've seen a similar drill from two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.

[RELATED: Richard Sherman calls out report on 2020 NFL season negotiations]

Kinlaw was the 49ers' first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, going No. 14 overall. The South Carolina product plugged up the middle for the Gamecocks' defense, picking up six sacks and recovering two fumbles. He likely will have an immediate chance to contribute, as All-Pro DeForest Buckner's departure to Indianapolis leaves a void in the 49ers' defensive line.

The rookie, along with a few returning players looking to earn a contract, will be imperative to make sure that void is filled in order for the 49ers to replicate the dominance the team enjoyed in 2019.

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49ers' Brandon Aiyuk sixth-best rookie receiver in Madden 21 ratings

49ers' Brandon Aiyuk sixth-best rookie receiver in Madden 21 ratings

The Brandon Aiyuk hype among 49ers fans has grown exponentially ever since he was drafted 25th overall in April.

The sixth receiver to come off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft, Aiyuk is expected to make an immediate impact with his elite breakaway speed, which he showcased numerous times during his two seasons at Arizona State.

But based on the just-released Madden 21 ratings, Aiyuk isn't even among the fastest wide receivers in his rookie class. In fact, he's just the sixth-best rookie wideout according to the video game's new ratings, checking in at 72 overall.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

The rookie receivers' overall ratings were almost identical to their draft positions, with the Denver Broncos' Jerry Jeudy and the Dallas Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb swapping places being the only alteration.

When it comes to speed, however, Aiyuk checks in as the 10th-fastest rookie wide receiver, behind a handful of players drafted well behind him.

[RELATED: George Kittle 'really proud' of team's offseason work, effort]

Aiyuk's 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine wasn't exactly elite (4.54 seconds), but during his senior season, he was tracked with a top in-game speed of 21.97 mph -- a mark bested by just three NFL players in 2019.

Game speed is different than track speed, and Aiyuk brings game speed in spades every time he takes the field.

Guessing those ratings might be adjusted once Aiyuk actually sees some on-field action in a 49ers uniform.