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, Washington Redskins
Trent Williams #71 of the Washington Redskins (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Projected role, future with 49ers in 2020 and beyond

Trent Williams is San Francisco’s starting left tackle this season. There isn’t any question about that, and the Niners wouldn’t have made the move in the first place if they thought anything different.

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The obvious hope and goal for both Williams and the 49ers is to get him back to playing at a Pro Bowl level. That would justify the trade and help alleviate the loss of Joe Staley. Reuniting Williams with Kyle Shanahan is a major crutch, too, and it should serve as added motivation for the probable Hall of Famer.

At the same time, another stellar season from Williams could ultimately put his chances of re-signing with the 49ers in jeopardy. Williams joined the Niners with one year remaining on his contract, and the team agreed not to use a franchise tag on him in 2021. With San Francisco being pressed up against the salary cap already, as well as next year’s cap projected to fall as low as $175 million, Williams’ 2021 asking price could be far too high for the 49ers to retain his services.

Especially considering his market value is pegged at $15.4 million annually, according to Spotrac.

That’s a number the Niners are unlikely to afford, meaning Williams is probably projected to be a one-year rental before hitting the open market and probably commanding a hefty salary elsewhere.

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In the meantime, however, San Francisco will go all-in with the roster it has and hope Williams will provide the same kind of efforts he’s flashed during his standout career before hitting free agency in 2021.