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.
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.
Washington OT Trent Williams has been given permission to seek a trade through his agent Vincent Taylor, as @diannaESPN has reported. Here is video of Williams working out this week. pic.twitter.com/FwAeT5ELMO— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 5, 2020
McVay likely isn’t the only one already worried about facing the 49ers in 2020.