Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Trent Williams draws praise from 49ers teammates Dre Greenlaw and Drake Jackson

Aug 3, 2022 at 9:13 AM--

Naming the best player in the NFL can create much discussion and debate. If you ask San Francisco 49ers defenders, the answer isn't too difficult. Take Dre Greenlaw, for instance. Greenlaw was recently asked about going against nine-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Trent Williams in practice. The first words out of the fourth-year linebacker's mouth prove how much his teammates respect Williams.

"Trent's the best player in the NFL, for sure. No doubt," Greenlaw told reporters on Monday. "In that regard, you better know your leverage. If you've got a guy like Trent coming at you, you better know if you're supposed to be inside of him or outside of him because if you go down the middle, he going to flatten you."

That's the best player in the NFL. The entire NFL. Not just among offensive linemen. That is high praise from a player who is nine years younger than Williams.

Pro Football Focus agrees with Greenlaw. In 2021, Williams earned the analytics site's highest-ever overall grade for a player—97.8. In addition, the offensive lineman's run-blocking grade was a career-high 97.9, and his pass-blocking grade of 86.0 was his highest since 2016.

Luckily for 49ers defenders, Williams goes a little easier on his teammates in practice.

"In practice, he's not going to do it," Greenlaw continued. "He knows how to kind of, 'Alright, I got you.' He's going to give you that little tap to let you know, 'Bro, I could have really, really got you.' He's never going as hard as he can until you turn on the tape on Sundays and you see just what he can do. But he's the best player in the NFL, for sure."

A reporter asked Greenlaw to explain further why he feels Williams is the best player in the NFL when the casual fan might focus on other positions when trying to identify the league's best.

"I think he's the best player," Greenlaw responded. "... [H]e's just got that 'No Fear' button. It don't matter who's lined up against him. I've got Trent winning. And that's with anything—any type of outside run or something like that. Trent runs like a DB. You've got to make some decisions when Trent's coming at you. You've got to make some business decisions.

"It's just the way that he plays the game. It's unbelievable. For somebody on the offensive line, you don't really look at that and say he's the best, but he's just an athlete. If he's not the best player, he's one of the best athletes, especially for that size. It's ridiculous."

Drake Jackson has only been in the NFL for a few months, but he already agrees with Greenlaw. The rookie defensive end hasn't faced Williams much on the practice field yet, but he sees an opportunity there. Jackson knows going against Williams will push his development into overdrive.

"I went against him one drive," Jackson shared on Tuesday, "and I definitely made sure I was on my 100 percent key because if you are, just like Greenlaw said, if you don't know where you're supposed to be on him, he will flatten you. You better be on your stuff when you're coming against him.

"And also, it's going to only make me better because I'm going against the best tackle in the league. I don't think there's anyone like him."

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