Trent Williams

49ers To Start Jimmy Garoppolo In Week 7

Jimmy Garoppolo will return to a starting role for the 49ers this week. The fifth-year 49er is off the team’s injury report and good to go for Sunday night’s game against the Colts.

Trey Lance will not suit up due to the knee sprain he sustained in Week 5. San Francisco’s bye week allowed Garoppolo to recover in time to become the rare incumbent to recapture his job from a rookie-year first-rounder. Though these situations usually end with the younger talent taking over for good, Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo would keep his job when healthy.

A high ankle sprain felled Garoppolo midway through last season, and he did not return. This year’s calf ailment proved to be milder, and Garoppolo will come back after missing just one game. The 30-year-old veteran — after being mentioned in trades during the offseason and viewed as a lame duck after the 49ers traded two future first-rounders for Lance — will have an interesting opportunity to submit a case he remains the best option for the 49ers to reach their 2021 ceiling.

Garoppolo is unlikely to have his top offensive lineman available, however. The 49ers declared Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams doubtful for Week 7 due to ankle and elbow injuries.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trent Williams: Chiefs Deal Felt ‘Imminent’

Trent Williams opted to re-sign with the 49ers, doing so on a record-setting agreement for an offensive lineman. However, the veteran left tackle said Tuesday he felt a Chiefs agreement was “imminent,” via ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner (on Twitter).

The Chiefs were in talks with Williams, who said those discussions reached a point that had him believing he was on track to join the two-time reigning AFC champions. However, Williams placed a call to Kyle Shanahan to relay where his negotiations with the Chiefs stood, and the 49ers later finalized a deal to retain their 2020 trade acquisition.

Signed to a six-year, $138.1MM deal, Williams said he had promised Shanahan he would keep him in the loop on his negotiations. That pledge led to the 49ers giving Williams his long-sought-after third NFL contract. It came in much higher than his second NFL deal — a five-year, $68MM pact in 2015.

Taking over for 13-year starter Joe Staley, Williams made his eighth Pro Bowl last season. The lineman recently told ESPN’s Nick Wagoner (Twitter link) that he believes he can play until he’s 40, and the player “has something to prove” as he looks to play out his six-year pact.

Kansas City was prepared to authorize two monster O-line contracts, having already received a commitment from former New England guard Joe Thuney on a five-year, $80MM accord, but the Chiefs are still in need at left tackle. The team released eight-year starter Eric Fisher earlier this month, with All-Pro right tackle Mitchell Schwartz joining him as a cap casualty. The Chiefs have since re-signed Mike Remmers, their left tackle from Super Bowl LV, and he may have a clearer-than-expected path to becoming Schwartz’s replacement on the right side. While it should not be considered a certainty Remmers will start at right tackle, the team does not have a surefire left tackle starter at this point.

This near-agreement is similar to the Chiefs’ pursuit of Earl Thomas in 2019. The perennial Pro Bowl safety indicated he was all set to sign with the Chiefs on a one-year deal, but the Ravens swooped in at the 11th hour with a better offer.

Chiefs Were Close To Signing OL Trent Williams

Trent Williams was *this* close to signing with Kansas City before he signed his massive deal with the 49ers. Matt Barrows of the Athletic tweets that the Chiefs “were the runners up in the Trent Williams negotiations,” noting that the veteran was very close to signing with the defending AFC champions.

This is a fine consolation for the Chiefs front office considering the giant contract that Williams ultimately got from San Francisco. The eight-time Pro Bowler inked a six-year, $138.06MM deal with the 49ers, including $55.1MM guaranteed and a $30.1MM signing bonus. The contract made Williams the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league.

The 32-year-old blocker graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall offensive tackle in 2020 despite sitting out the entire 2019 campaign. The 32-year-old was widely regarded as the best available free agent in this year’s class, regardless of position.

The Chiefs are committed to revamping Patrick Mahomes‘ offensive line this offseason. While they may have struck out with Williams, they’ve managed to still add some reinforcement. The team inked Joe Thuney to a five-year deal, and we learned earlier today that the team had signed Kyle Long out of retirement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Re-Sign Trent Williams To Six-Year, $138MM Deal

The 49ers have re-signed Trent Williams to a six-year, $138.06MM deal (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). The deal comes with $55.1MM guaranteed and a $30.1MM signing bonus and makes Williams the highest-paid offensive lineman. 

The Chiefs, Colts, and Bears all wanted Williams, but the incumbents won out. There were, at least, consolation prizes for the Chiefs and Bears — Kansas City landed top guard Joe Thuney while the Bears allocated their dollars towards quarterback Andy Dalton and a new deal for (not-as-impressive) tackle Germain Ifedi.

The 32-year-old blocker graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall tackle last year after sitting out the entire 2019 season. He’ll turn 33 in July, but he was widely regarded as the best available free agent in this year’s class, regardless of position.

The current rate for top offensive tackles is around $22MM per year. Despite his age, Williams has topped that with an average annual value of $23MM. Previously, the watermark was held by Packers lineman David Bakhtiari, who inked a four-year, $92 million extension back in November. He could have gotten those dollars anywhere, but Williams has said all along that he’d like to play out the rest of his career in San Francisco.

San Francisco would be the leading candidate regardless,” Williams said earlier this year. “So even if it does make it to free agency, it won’t be because I’m trying to go somewhere else. It may be simply because I want to see my value. It’s been 11 years in this league, and I have yet to see a franchise left tackle go to the open market. I think it would be interesting to kind of see what [my] value holds.”

Williams’ value is mostly predicated on his world-class performance, but it was also lifted by the lack of quality offensive linemen available in this year’s class. Rather than reaching for subpar protection, the Niners shelled out the big bucks for one of the best tackles in the business.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Trent Williams’ Market

As expected, the market for free agent left tackle Trent Williams is very strong. Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Chiefs, Colts, Bears, and incumbent 49ers are all in the running (Twitter link). However, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune is hearing that Williams will not be heading to the Windy City (Twitter link).

We heard several days ago that San Francisco has been pushing to retain Williams, but the 32-year-old blocker sounded as if he wanted to see what the open market had in store. And he is probably happy he made that decision, because according to La Canfora, some GMs believe Williams could earn a $23MM/year deal, which would be right at the top of the LT market in terms of average annual value.

Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Chicago all qualified for the postseason in 2020, and though KC came up just a bit short in the Super Bowl, they did sign the top guard on the market, Joe Thuney. Adding Williams to Patrick Mahomes‘ offensive front would make the Chiefs an even tougher matchup than they already are.

The prospect of playing for the Chiefs’ high-flying offense could be quite appealing for Williams, who wasted away in Washington for most of his career and failed to reach the playoffs with the 49ers in 2020. Of course, Kansas City also has the best QB situation of the interested teams, as the Colts will trot out Carson Wentz, the Bears might be rolling with Andy Dalton, and the 49ers may or may not trade Jimmy Garoppolo.

After sitting out the entire 2019 season, Williams graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall tackle last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Want To Retain OL Trent Williams

Earlier this week, offensive tackle Trent Williams hinted that he’d be interested in sticking with the 49ers. According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (on Twitter), the 49ers are hoping that’s the case, as the organization is making a push to sign the veteran before the start of the league year on March 17.

Per Garafolo, the 49ers front office has made “strong offers” to Williams’ camp, and the organization is “hopeful” that they can get a deal done at some point next week. However, Garafolo warns that Williams won’t be taking any kind of discount to stay in San Francisco. While the offensive tackle apparently enjoyed his stint with the 49ers, he also “wants to see his value” reflected on his next contract. As Garafolo notes, Williams’ desire for a lucrative long-term pact was part of the reason why the lineman required a provision in his contract that stated that he couldn’t be slapped with the franchise tag.

Williams had a strong comeback campaign in 2020. After sitting out the entire 2019 season, Williams graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall tackle this past year. The current rate for top offensive tackles is around $22MM per year. At 32 years old, Williams may not be able to command that kind of AAV, but he should easily be able to secure a deal that pays him north of $18MM.

During a recent appearance on the Cris Collinsworth Podcast, Richard Sherman predicted Williams would stay with the 49ers and indicated he would play several more seasons. Also on the podcast, Williams replied (via NFL.com), “That’s not a bad take, fellas. Y’all barking up the right tree.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trent Williams Eyeing 49ers Return?

Due to an agreement reached last summer, the 49ers were not permitted to retain Trent Williams via the franchise tag. They have five days left to negotiate exclusively with the Pro Bowl left tackle, whom they acquired via trade last year.

San Francisco has more than $23MM in cap space — the 12th-most as of Wednesday night, though teams will continue to create funds ahead of the March 17 start to the new league year — and Williams launched a successful reboot to his career with the team last season. Williams and Kyle Shanahan also have a history going back to the latter’s OC days in Washington, and the eight-time Pro Bowler may not want to play for a third team.

During an appearance on the Cris Collinsworth Podcast, Richard Sherman predicted Williams would stay with the 49ers and indicated he would play several more seasons. Also on the podcast, Williams replied (via NFL.com), “That’s not a bad take, fellas. Y’all barking up the right tree.”

Although Williams will turn 33 this offseason, he will command a high-end left tackle salary. Considering Williams has never hit free agency before, it would not be surprising to see him hold off on a 49ers extension and let them vie for his services against other teams in free agency.

With Laremy Tunsil and David Bakhtiari raising the tackle market to beyond the $22MM-per-year point, Williams’ next deal may not come in too far below those younger blockers’. That will put the 49ers to a decision. They traded third- and fifth-round picks to acquire Williams last year and saw the deal work out quite well, even though their season did not go smoothly. After sitting out the 2019 season, Williams graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall tackle in 2020.

Williams exiting the Bay Area would create a major need for a 49ers team that had avoided such issues for much of this century. Joe Staley held down San Francisco’s left tackle job from 2007-19, and on the same day his retirement decision surfaced, the 49ers traded for Williams. The 49ers would check off a key item from their offseason to-do list by retaining him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/1/21

Here are the minor moves from New Year’s Day:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: WR John Brown

Dallas Cowboys

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Injury Updates: Goff, Rams, Murray, Cardinals, 49ers, Mixon, Bengals, Watkins, Chiefs, Edelman, Patriots

Things have gotten ugly for Jared Goff and the Rams’ offense the last couple of weeks, with back to back losses to the Jets and Seahawks in which Goff played poorly. Making matters worse, Los Angeles’ quarterback dislocated and broke his thumb during the loss to Seattle. It looks like there are a wide range of outcomes moving forward, with everything from Goff playing this Sunday to being out for the remainder of the season being on the table. Goff will require surgery on the thumb at some point but he’s hoping to push it back until after the season, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports (Twitter video link).

Rapsheet says that Goff is “adamant” about pushing to play in Week 17 and that he at least has a “shot” to be under center. If the Bears lose to the Packers on Sunday then the Rams are in the playoffs no matter what, but if Chicago beats Green Bay then the Rams will need to beat the Cardinals to get in. It sounds like Goff is going to try to push through and suit up for the playoffs even if he isn’t able to be out there on Sunday. Goff is meeting with specialist Dr. Steven Shin today, the same doctor who treated Drew Brees‘ thumb injury last year, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Obviously Brees missed a handful of games with that injury last year, although hopefully for the Rams this isn’t as severe. If Goff is forced to miss the game against Arizona, it’ll mean the first regular season NFL action for former Wake Forest and AAF star John Wolford.

Here are more health issues from around the league entering the final week of the season:

  • Goff isn’t the only banged up quarterback in this pivotal game. Kyler Murray has already dealt with a lingering shoulder injury this season, and he also hurt his leg at the end of Arizona’s Week 16 loss to San Francisco. Speaking to the media Monday head coach Kliff Kingsbury was vague, only deeming it a “lower leg” injury and saying they won’t put Murray out there if he can’t be effective. If the Cards win on Sunday, they’re in. If they don’t, they’re out. In a game of this magnitude, you have to figure Murray is going to play if it’s at all possible, but right now Kingsbury is saying it’s up in the air. This will be a situation to monitor closely, but either way it sounds like Murray is going to be at less than 100 percent against Aaron Donald and co.
  • One last dispatch from the NFC West. The 49ers picked up an upset of the Cardinals, but their injury-plagued season continued. They dropped at least two more starters, as rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk and left tackle Trent Williams both won’t play in Week 17 due to injuries they suffered against Arizona, Kyle Shanahan said Monday. Shanahan also said he’d be shocked if Jimmy Garoppolo plays this weekend, meaning C.J. Beathard should get another crack at it. Aiyuk has flashed a lot of promise, and 49ers fans have to be excited about his 2021 potential. It’s possible we’ve seen Garoppolo play his last snap as a 49er.
  • Joe Mixon‘s 2020 campaign is officially in the books. The Bengals running back won’t play this weekend, head coach Zac Taylor confirmed Monday. Mixon hasn’t played since all the way back in Week 6 due to a foot injury, but the team kept insisting he was only week to week this whole time. Mixon signed a four-year, $48MM extension back in September, so he’s in Cincy for the long-haul.
  • Chiefs fans can breathe a little easier. Receiver Sammy Watkins went down with a calf injury yesterday, but Rapoport tweets it isn’t believed to be major. Given Watkins’ injury history, that’s a big relief. Rapoport writes that Watkins will rest in Week 17, but that there’s a “good chance” he’s back for Kansas City’s first playoff game.
  • Another player whose season, and quite possibly career, is over: Patriots receiver Julian Edelman. Rapoport tweets that Edelman won’t be activated for tonight’s Monday Night Football showdown with the Bills, and that it’s “unlikely” he plays next week either. Edelman is under contract for next season but he’ll turn 35 in May, so it’s entirely fair to wonder whether he’ll end up retiring. The legendary Patriot, who has spent all 12 years of his career in New England, was limited to only six games this year due to a knee injury.

COVID-19 Latest: Ravens, Williams, Browns

Earlier Wednesday, the NFL took the Ravens-Steelers rematch off its Thanksgiving schedule. That game is now on tap for 12:15pm CT Sunday. More is emerging on why the Steelers will see another of their games delayed. The Ravens disciplined a strength and conditioning coach for “conduct surrounding the recent COVID-19 cases that have affected players and staff.” The Ravens are levying the discipline because the unnamed staffer did not report symptoms or consistently wear a mask or a contact tracing device, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). This is believed to have contributed to the Ravens’ outbreak — one that comes nearly two months after a Titans outbreak altered the Steelers’ schedule. Seven Ravens players and at least five staffers have tested positive for COVID. This will not only weaken Baltimore against Pittsburgh but potentially deplete team’s roster for its Week 13 Thursday game against Dallas.

Several teams shuffled their rosters because of COVID on Wednesday. Here is the latest:

  • 49ers left tackle Trent Williams tested positive for COVID-19 last week, per ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano (on Twitter). A cancer survivor, Williams has not experienced issues with the virus yet, Graziano tweets. Williams, who landed on the 49ers’ COVID list earlier this month as a high-risk close contact, is on track to miss San Francisco’s Week 12 game in Los Angeles.
  • Six players remain on San Francisco’s virus list. The 49ers removed Arik Armstead and center Hroniss Grasu on Wednesday.
  • Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki tested positive Wednesday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com (on Twitter). Takitaki played against the Eagles and returned an interception for a touchdown. The Cleveland starting linebacker’s positive test follows Myles Garrett‘s. Neither they nor Denzel Ward (injury) will be available for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars. The Browns closed their facility Wednesday, but their Jags game remains on schedule.
  • The Bengals placed wide receiver Auden Tate and recently acquired offensive lineman B.J. Finney on their reserve/COVID-19 list. Cincinnati has seen staffers test positive, with D-line coach Nick Eason being the most recent. Eason was alerted of his positive test Tuesday. The Bengals now have five players on their reserve/COVID list.
  • Christian Wilkins is off the Dolphins‘ COVID list. Wilkins was not reported to have tested positive, but the second-year defensive lineman still missed two games after landing on the team’s virus list.
  • The Raiders activated Cory Littleton from their COVID list. The high-profile free agent addition has been out for two weeks due to a positive coronavirus test. Las Vegas’ defense remains shorthanded due to virus issues, with Clelin Ferrell testing positive last week and Lamarcus Joyner missing Sunday’s Chiefs game because of his status as a close contact.
  • Dante Fowler also tested positive two weeks ago and missed the Falcons‘ Week 11 game, but the big-ticket free agent addition is off the list now and on course to return to Atlanta’s lineup Sunday.
  • The Vikings and Chargers also removed players from their respective virus lists Wednesday. Minnesota activated guard Dru Samia; Los Angeles activated cornerback Brandon Facyson.