The San Francisco 49ers‘ season has been defined by change: a new quarterback twice, over a dozen players on injured reserve and a blockbuster trade.
But one constant is left tackle Trent Williams, about whom head coach Kyle Shanahan gave a glowing endorsement, describing to reporters how he uses clips of Williams — both the good and bad — as a teaching tool.
“Yeah, we show highlights to get guys pumped up. And we also show lowlights to keep people humble and to keep people getting better,” Shanahan said at his December 7 press conference. “[Williams] had a bunch of [lowlights] last Friday. … So, I got him a little bit in our run meeting, which Trent is awesome with.”
Shanahan, who said Williams “always responds good” to being spotlighted, praised him not not just for his strengths but also for his willingness to work on his weaknesses.
“It was so cool, because it was kind of the same points on some of his highlight ones, where we missed that block. Not because he missed it, just choosing the wrong technique the week before. And he chose the right technique about four times in a row and a few cutbacks and it was really cool seeing that back-to-back,” Shanahan said.
Williams, a former first-round pick, is a nine-time Pro Bowler who is widely considered the best left tackle in the business. Even at 34 years old, Williams is the highest-graded tackle to this point in the season, according to Pro Football Focus.
“He’s one of the smartest o-linemen I’ve been around,” Shanahan said. and so if you’re sitting there and talking about something and showing something and not just yelling a coaching point, he’s locked in and really appreciates it.”
Trent Williams Is a Vital Cog in the 49ers’ Offense
When asked whether the team runs plays specifically to the left to take advantage of Williams’ dominance in both pass protection and run blocking, Shanahan said no, suggesting that Williams can be used as a decoy.
“Not really. Sometimes like we’re going to get this guy out on the edge, but [Arizona Cardinals safety] Budda [Baker]’s out there and Budda will make everyone look silly,” Shanahan said. “Our guy has a chance for him not to make him look silly — doesn’t mean he won’t.”
During his nine years with the Washington Commanders, Williams would be used as a focal point on runs to the left, but Shanahan is willing to spread out responsibilities across his offense, trusting right tackle Mike McGlinchey to fill the exact same role as his left side foil.
“There’s lots of plays that we like to run at Trent because he is pretty good, but half the plays we want to run away from him because we think it’s cutting back,” he said. “But you don’t really know that to how the fronts are, how they play the techniques, so it’s really hard to just run exactly at someone in our offense.”
Williams Compliments New Starting Quarterback
After the 49ers’ 33-17 win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 13, Williams complimented the play of quarterback Brock Purdy, a rookie who was forced into action after Jimmy Garoppolo went down in the first quarter. Purdy went 25-of-37, throwing for 210 yards and two touchdowns against an interception.
“You would think he’s been in the league 15 years,” Williams said, according to a tweet from NFL Network’s Bridget Condon. “If you’re talking, he’ll say shut your a** up. He ain’t no timid rookie feeling his way around. He will get on your a**. You would think he’s like Peyton Manning or something.”