The 2021 All-Pro was joined by defensive end Nick Bosa and offensive tackle Trent Williams as the 49ers began mandatory minicamp at Santa Clara — giving the 49ers three members of their All-Pro unit from last season back on the same field for the first time since the NFC title game.
The talk of day one of mandatory camp was centered on Samuel’s return — who was involved in some offseason tensions with the 49ers from contract talks, to scrubbing his social media pages of 49ers related content all the way to him demanding a trade in April. Samuel, though, made his first public appearance inside the 49ers’ facility since January.
But Samuel’s return received this assist: Conversations with an All-Pro.
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‘I Think He’s Grabbing the Situation by the Horns Now’
The blindside protector Williams spoke with the Bay Area media for the first time since the playoffs. And Williams was asked if he was involved with Samuel’s highly-scrutinized conflict with the ‘Niners.
Williams revealed he was indeed a veteran voice for the 2019 second rounder.
“If he needs me, I’m here. If he gives me a call, I give him whatever advice I have for him,” Williams said to reporters.
From there, Williams didn’t detail every word in his conversations with Samuel. But judging by Samuel ending his holdout, the conversations with Williams helped ease some tensions and convinced him to return.
“We’ve had good, quality talks,” Williams said. “I think he’s grabbing the situation by the horns now and showing how mature he is by showing up (to minicamp). And I think that goes a long way.”
Williams Becomes Honest With Himself Regarding One Performance
The last time Williams was on the field, he was trying to overcome a bad knee with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line at SoFi Stadium.
Williams endured the pain in his knee…but openly admitted that it wasn’t his best decision.
“I really had no business being out there,” Williams said of that 20-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. “It was so hard for me to not be out there knowing the position we were in and what we were trying to accomplish. Looking back on it, I probably shouldn’t have pushed it that far.
“I think Colton (McKivitz) probably could’ve done a better job on two healthy ankles than I did on one,” Williams shared. “Hindsight is 20/20, but looking back on it, I probably pushed it too far.”
Noted by The Athletic’s David Lombardi, Williams endured his worst game as a pass protector and run blocker versus the eventual Super Bowl 56 champions.
“Trent Williams allowed 5 pressures playing hurt in that NFC title game, easily his worst performance of the season in pass protection. His PFF run-blocking grade of 58.1 was also his worst of the season,” Lombardi tweeted.
Williams Also Convinced About Life Without Mack
While Williams returned, he’s heading to an offensive line that will be without one Pro Bowler: Alex Mack, who officially announced his retirement on Friday, June 3.
Jake Brendel is currently projected to take over the spot Mack relinquishes. However, Williams is convinced Brendel is more than capable of replacing Mack.
“Jake is a vet. He’s been around (offensive line) coach (Chris) Foerster for a long time,” Williams said. “Every center is pretty much the brains of the operation. Not just the starting center but all the way down to the third or fourth string. The only time you see any issues with the center is when it’s rookie year or they’re new to the system. But Jake is like any center I’ve been around: Knows the offense inside and out.”
He also gave Brendel this title on the field.
“He’s almost like talking to a coach when you ask about assignments and game plans,” Williams said. “Jake is an outstanding player. I think he’s going to continue to play productive football for a long time and we’re glad to have him.”