For weeks now, there has been a small but vocal segment of the San Francisco 49ers‘ fanbase who has been obsessed with how Trent Williams sets his stance before the ball is snapped. In the opinion of some, how Williams sets his hands before the snap, be it in a two-point stance or a three-point stance, is tipping off opposing defenders, coaches, and even fans at home as to whether or not the play is going to be a run or a pass.
When asked about the “Stancegate,” if one wants to call it that, Williams wrote off the suggestion, contending that the assertion is nonsensical, as transcribed by NBC Sports Bay Area.
“It’s pretty [much] nonsense,” Williams told reporters on November 18. “If you just think that football is as simple as knowing if it is a run or a pass, and you dismiss the knowledge that you have to have to compete at a high level, just because you know it’s a run, doesn’t mean you know what type of run.”
Williams has a point there, even if an opposing defender knows a run is coming doesn’t mean they know where the run is going to go, especially when Kyle Shanahan, one of the savviest rushing designers in the NFL, is calling the plays.
Trent Williams Believes Play-Calling Diversity Keeps Calls Secret
Continuing with his comments, Williams detailed just how deep the 49ers’ bag of rushing tricks is while suggesting that tipping plays can go both ways.
“We just installed 50 runs with six different looks each run,” Williams said. “So I could show you run all day. Do you know which 50 runs we are running? There’s plays where we want it to look like a run and we are passing it and there are runs that look like a pass and we are running it.”
“If you’re looking for me to tell you everything, then I can manipulate you. Which is why they don’t look at us that much, as much as you guys think. It’s never been that big of a deal on this side.”
Do opposing defenders look at Williams for what kind of play Shanahan is planning on running? Potentially so, but when the 49ers run the ball behind Williams incredibly often and do so incredibly efficiently, it’s hard to argue with the results.
The 49ers Run Behind Trent Williams A Lot
“No team runs behind Trent Williams more than the San Francisco 49ers.”
These words, stated earnestly by Cris Collinsworth on Sunday Night Football, were rightfully lambasted on Twitter for the silliness of the statement, as Williams is only a member of one team, and that’s the 49ers, but there is a nugget of truth to the statement.
The 49ers, unsurprisingly, run the ball a lot, as they currently rank 11th in rushing attempts per game according to Pro Football Reference, and they do tend to run behind Williams a fair amount, too, as, according to Pro Football Focus, the player affectionately known as “Silverback” ranks second in Run Blocking grade among qualifying tackles.
While Mike McGlinchey is no slouch in the run game either, as he ranks 17th among qualifying tackles, Williams remains one of the best lead blockers in the game and will likely play a big role in the success of Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell moving forward.