No one could have blamed Trent Williams if he was struggling to adjust to his new environment.
After representing the Washington Football Team for 10 years, the left tackle was traded for the first time in his career to the San Francisco 49ers.
— NFL (@NFL) April 25, 2020
The ongoing pandemic has prevented him from having a typical offseason to meet teammates and learn the playbook.
He also missed all of last year after his former team mishandled both his contract and his cancer diagnosis.
Yet with all this turmoil, the seven-time Pro Bowler fits seamlessly in the Bay Area.
In a video conference call last Thursday, Williams told reporters how the “vibe is different” with this group.
“Coming where I came from, a walkthrough was a walkthrough,” he said. “Our walkthrough here was pretty intense. A lot of focus, a lot of attention to detail, and guys flying around. You could tell this is a hungry group of guys, and I feel like I fit right in.”
A vastly improved team culture has made this a smooth transition for him, but it also helps that he is reuniting with Kyle Shanahan.
“This was a preferred destination of mine just because of the familiarity I had with Kyle and the offense, and obviously they have an ascending team,” Williams said after the trade. “The reason I was drafted to Washington was the way this offense marries up with my skill set. And I think it’s still the same. It’s a hand-in-glove fit. I know this offense like the back of my hand.”
For a franchise cemented in win-now mode, having a player of Williams’ caliber at left tackle is paramount.
From One Elite Player to Another
With the retirement of Joe Staley, the 49ers lost more than a stalwart on the field.
The fan-favorite was a leader in the clubhouse who stuck with the club through thick and thin.
The addition of Williams, though, helps offset that loss.
Highest graded LTs since 2011
1. Joe Staley – 93.8
4. Trent Williams – 92.5 pic.twitter.com/O2gadqqAhb
— PFF (@PFF) April 25, 2020
At 6’5″ and around 320 pounds, Williams is a mammoth of man that somehow does not sacrifice any athleticism.
He is more than capable as a run blocker but excels specifically in pass protection.
From 2016 to 2018, Williams played 35 games, but only gave up a total of three sacks.
San Francisco’s offensive line was just average in preventing sacks last year, so his presence should give quarterback Jimmy Garappolo more time in the pocket.
Shaking Off the Rust
While the move for Williams reads well on paper, it has been almost 600 days since he has last played.
Luckily for him, San Francisco employs a slew of talented pass rushers to help him get back into shape.
“He’s going to be a pivotal tool for me to use to knock the rust off,” Williams said about new teammate Nick Bosa. “He’s probably one of the biggest challenges that I’ll face all year… I think it’s going to work out as best-case for me, and I hope he gains just as much as I do from it.”
Despite his extended layoff, though, Williams looks no worse for wear on the practice field.
“Even just in walkthrough, you still kind of get a little jaw-dropped by how smooth and how much of an athlete he truly is at his size,” fellow offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey said about Williams this past Monday. “It’s going to be cool to pick his brain over the next couple of weeks here, going through training camp, once live bullets start flying, and seeing him back in action.”
If the 49ers get the player Williams once was, the NFC West will be San Francisco’s to lose again.NEXT: 49ers' Kyle Shanahan Gained Valuable Insight From Jon Gruden