Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Trent Williams calls 49ers his No. 1 destination but is curious about his free agency value

Jan 5, 2021 at 6:18 AM--


Veteran left tackle Trent Williams may be one of the San Francisco 49ers' most important offseason decisions. During last year's draft, the team traded for him as a replacement for the retired Joe Staley. William was to anchor the offensive line. Some questioned whether there would be some rust after the tackle missed all of the 2019 season.

Williams finished the season as Pro Football Focus' highest-graded tackle and second-highest-graded offensive lineman.

The 49ers cannot use the franchise tag on Williams. That was part of his deal's restructured final year, which was reworked following the trade from Washington to San Francisco.

Now, Williams is slated to become a free agent. He would like to return to the 49ers, and the team would certainly like to have him back. Does Williams see that happening before or after he officially becomes a free agent at the start of the new league year in March?

"Honestly, it don't matter to me," Williams told reporters on Monday. "Regardless, San Francisco would be the lead candidate, so whether it's now or whether it is in free agency, a team has to convince me it's better there than it will be here. Even if it does make it to free agency, it won't be because I'm trying to go somewhere else. It may simply (be) just because I may want to see my value."

Washington drafted Williams with the No. 4 overall pick in 2010. He spent his first 10 NFL seasons there before being traded and has never hit free agency. That may change in 2021.

"It's been 11 years in the league," Williams continued. "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 the value holds. Regardless, like I said, I've always maintained the same thing. I think San Francisco is my number one destination, and we'll see how things work out."

Williams allowed four sacks this season, but none of them came after Week 5.

The 49ers are already pushed up against the salary cap as it is. That salary cap is expected to fall dramatically in 2021. On Monday, general manager John Lynch said the team is operating as if the salary cap will be set at $175 million, and anything over that amount would be a bonus.

Is Williams willing to find a balance between a top salary and what San Francisco can afford to stay put?

"I think it would be a blend of both," Williams responded. "If I'm not here, obviously, I would want to maximize my value. But I do understand any time you have a roster that has a lot of good players, you're not going to have a wealth of salary cap space, so I understand that as well.

"Salary cap is just one aspect of it. There's always ways around that. ... These types of deals, when they're that size, there has to be some creative work between both sides, that it all seamlessly fits in the salary cap, and that it doesn't restrict the team from going out and getting better."

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