Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan, Trent Williams among ESPN’s most compelling NFL storylines of 2020

Sep 3, 2020 at 6:24 AM--

Bill Barnwell of ESPN decided to choose the 40 most compelling people and storylines in the NFL as the league prepares to kick off an unprecedented season full of uncertainty. That is due to the decision to push forward with a season amid a pandemic, which, for half a year, has impacted our daily lives.

"Today, I've gone through 40 of the players, coaches and officials who rank among the most compelling to watch this season," wrote Barnwell.

Among those NFL storylines is the return of offensive tackle Trent Williams, who, after much drama in Washington and a missed 2019 season, prepares to get back on the football field with his new team — the San Francisco 49ers.

Williams has looked as good as advertised during training camp. Better than expected, in fact.

"He's been so progressively better and better every day, just with the system and learning all the little things that go into it," quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said of Williams on Wednesday. "It's been impressive. And so, you tip your hat to him and he's just going to keep being the leader that he's been this whole training camp for us."

Williams, of course, is excited to be reunited with his former offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, who is now San Francisco's head coach.

"Most players wouldn't sit out a year in their football prime to insist on a trade away from an organization, but Washington's misdiagnosis and mismanagement of what eventually was diagnosed as skin cancer left the star tackle with no choice," wrote Barnwell. "If he could have picked a better landing spot, it's difficult to imagine one for Williams than San Francisco and a reunion with former Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan."

Williams takes over the left tackle spot, made vacant by the retirement of Joe Staley. The tackle arrives in the Bay Area with one year remaining on his current contract, so a solid performance in 2020 could translate to some big money in 2021.

Williams looks more than "solid," though.

Another of Barnwell's top storylines is Shanahan himself. The coach is coming off his second Super Bowl defeat and first as a head coach. He, like his players, is among the most eager in the NFL to get the 2020 season started because the 49ers want to make amends for February's heartbreaking defeat.

Shanahan is considered one of the best young football minds in the game. Of course, the same was said a year go of his friend — another NFC West head coach.

"We just saw Sean McVay go from looking like he had all the answers as the Rams made it to the Super Bowl in 2018 to a guy who needed to reconsider his offensive philosophy after a disappointing 2019 campaign," wrote Barnwell. "The 49ers aren't necessarily about to undergo the same sort of frustrating campaign, but they've already been hit by a series of injuries to their skill-position players. Last season, there weren't many expectations for the 49ers to compete for a division title. Now, anything short would be disappointing."

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