49ers OT Trent Williams enters career-defining season in 2020

Trent Williams #71 of the Washington Redskins (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Trent Williams #71 of the Washington Redskins (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Trent Williams, Redskins
Trent Williams #71 of the Washington Redskins (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

Why Trent Williams improves with 49ers in 2020

While Joe Staley rightfully cemented himself as one of the best offensive linemen in franchise history, Trent Williams is actually an upgrade.

Being almost four years younger than Staley helps Williams’ case. But also in pass protection where his 6-foot-5, 320-pound frame is put to excellent work frustrating opponents’ top weak-side pass-rushers.

Both Staley and Williams earned high pass-blocking grades from Pro Football Focus. But Williams’ 2016 campaign should come into focus where he received a 91.4 mark here. Staley, meanwhile, never peaked out higher than the high 80s in this grade marking. Staley also allowed an average of 4.9 sacks per season, whereas Williams averaged 4.0.

Yet Williams’ prowess goes beyond the stats and analytics. Just looking at the film, Williams’ football IQ is top notch and displays the tendencies desired for elite-level offensive linemen:

Williams isn’t just an immovable object. Actually, he’s quite nimble. And his success in Kyle Shanahan’s offense needs little introduction, as his perennial Pro Bowl efforts began when Shanahan was in Washington.

One could also project Williams to play even better in 2020 than he did in 2018. That year, Washington’s O-line ranked 26th in run blocking and 24th in pass protection, according to Football Outsiders. Last season, the Niners boasted the league’s eighth best run-blocking unit and 15th best pass-blocking group. True, San Francisco has undergone some changes up front, Williams included. But three of the other five O-line members are carryovers from last year.

This suggests Williams could actually improve in 2020, particularly if he took advantage of the year off.