SANTA CLARA -- Seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams admits to actually looking forward to playing in the preseason this summer.
After sitting out all of last season, he felt playing in some dress rehearsals might allow him to ease his nerves for the 49ers' regular-season opener on Sept. 13 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Instead, Willams is happy to settle for the next-best thing throughout training camp.
Defensive end Nick Bosa has raved about the advantages of going up a player of Williams’ unique blend of size, strength, agility and technique in practices.
On Saturday, Williams heaped lavish praise on Bosa, the NFL’s reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year after the 49ers selected him with the No. 2 overall pick last year.
“Everybody’s dealing with the same thing,” Williams said, referring to the NFL’s cancellation of the preseason due to the coronavirus pandemic. “But, luckily, I do have one of the best rushers in the league to go up against every day.”
Bosa is coming off a rookie season in which he registered nine sacks. He added four more in three postseason games. Based on what he has seen in the first week of practices during training camp, Williams believes Bosa’s game will continue to rise.
“Nick, he’s better than I already thought he was, and I knew he was top three, four in the game,” Williams said. “But just going up against him every day, seeing how smart he is, seeing how hard he works, and seeing just how seriously he takes the game, I honestly see his trajectory as being one of the best in the game.
“When it’s all said and done, when you say who’s the best pass-rusher, all-around D-end, I think Nick Bosa may be the first name that comes out of a lot of people’s mouth.”
Williams said he could not have asked for a better situation for his return to action.
The 49ers acquired Williams in a draft-day trade from Washington to replace Joe Staley, who decided to retire after 13 NFL seasons. Williams was drafted into Kyle Shanahan’s system in 2010, so it has been a smooth transition to the 49ers' playbook. And Bosa is providing him with a daily challenge to help elevate his play to regular-season levels.
“It’s a blessing for me because I’m able to go against him every day,” Williams said. “We’re able to talk and kind of walk each other through how we’re thinking. It’s been a great help to me, and I couldn’t have even planned a better camp, just as far as learning-wise and knocking the rust off.”