Trent Williams hasn’t played football in a while. His last in-game snap came in Washington’s 24-0 loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 30, 2018, by far the longest gap since he started playing the sport early in elementary school.
This down period has been odd, dominated by a feud with Washington’s front office and medical staff, and an extended holdout, followed by talks of a trade away from the organization that drafted him No. 4 overall back in 2010.
The relationship soured to the point that even amicable new head coach Ron Rivera couldn’t save it, leading Washington to put him back on the trading block and eventually deal him to the 49ers for a 2020 fifth-round draft pick and a third-round draft pick the following year.
Williams reported to Washington after the trade deadline, with enough time with the team to earn an accrued season. He practiced but never played for Washington, fueling his desire to return to the field.
[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
The extended absence could mean the seven-time Pro Bowl selection is better when he comes back.
“It’s crazy that I’m 31 and I feel 25 again,” Williams said Thursday in a video conference with local reporters. “This is my first year off of football since the second grade. That’s like 25 years of straight football every August. My body has had a chance to rest and a chance to heal. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a position where I don’t feel an ache or a pain even just going through offseason workouts. I feel rejuvenated to say the least.”
Williams has been working out hard at a gym he co-owns with Adrian Peterson, staying in great shape while trying to improve technique where possible outside a true football environment.
Physical benefits of the time away suggest the 49ers will get the best version of Williams, but there were some drawbacks to being on his own much of last season and outside the mix after he returned to Washington.
“It was extremely difficult,” Williams said. “It was my first time in two decades where I wasn’t in a locker room in August, so it was definitely a turning point in my life, taking one of the most important things away. It is what it is, but I think it made me stronger. I had a lot of time to sit back and watch the game from afar, just to get a different perspective on it. You gain a different appreciation for sure.”
Williams will have to wait a bit longer to bring newfound perspective to a 49ers practice field. Teams are conducting virtual offseason programs while players are working on their own and participating from home. Williams remains in Houston during this unique time, as opposed to meeting during the offseason program while ramping up towards OTAs. All of those workouts are postponed indefinitely, leaving it open ended when Williams will make the trek out to Santa Clara.
Williams is sure of one thing. He can’t wait for that report date.
“I just want to get on the field. I have been chomping at the bit for some time,” Williams said. “I have gone through my roller coaster of emotions because I did go back at the trade deadline. I was getting ready to play, so I got that adrenaline dump. Now I’m ready to get on the field with a Super-Bowl caliber team. That’s all I can think about right now. I can’t really think about anything else.”