The 49ers made a big move Saturday morning that could signal the end of the line for the team’s longest tenured player.
San Francisco acquired Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams for their 2020 fifth-round pick and a third-round selection in 2021, the 49ers announced Saturday. NFL Network was first to report the news, and the trade is subject to a physical for the 31-year-old star, widely regarded as one of the league’s premier tackles. He went to seven straight Pro Bowls from 2012 to 2018.
The move would be prudent if left tackle Joe Staley, a five-time Pro Bowl selection and member of the NFL’s All-Decade team, were not coming back for a 14th season. Staley will turn 36 in August and missed nine games last season with a fractured fibula and later a dislocated and fractured finger.
Staley has not formally committed to coming back and there’s a belief he could be retiring due to medical concerns, according to a report from ESPN.
49ers general manager John Lynch on Monday, three days before the NFL draft, indicated he was optimistic Staley would be returning whenever the NFL season resumed its normal schedule.
“We’ve kept in good contact with Joe,” Lynch said. “He’s doing his typical routine down with his family in San Diego, working out. We’re encouraged. We’ve heard nothing that would lead us to believe that Joe’s not going to play. We’re encouraged with that. We’ll see where that goes.”
Williams didn’t play last season while in a dispute with Washington about his contract and the medical staff’s handling of a growth found on his head that required multiple surgeries. Williams was reportedly coveted by the Minnesota Vikings earlier this week.
Williams is familiar with San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan, who was the offensive coordinator with Washington for four seasons starting in 2010, when he was the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft out of Oklahoma. Williams allowed one sack and 11 quarterback hits over 876 pass blocking snaps in 2017 and 2018.
Williams was scheduled to make $12.5 million in 2019 but will restructure the final year of his contract upon joining the 49ers, according to an ESPN report.
Staley signed a two-year extension through 2021 before the start last season. He was scheduled to count for $11.5 million against the salary cap.
Staley’s final game with the 49ers came in February’s excruciating loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. It marked the second time Staley had played in a Super Bowl and lost in dramatic fashion.
“I just know how hard it is to get here and you don’t know how many chances you’re going to get again to be in this moment,” Staley told the Bee in Miami. “So, this hurts. It hurts. It’s a cliche to say that, but it’s seriously the only reason I play football. I don’t give a s— about any of that other stuff.
“I don’t care about being paid well. I don’t care about going to Pro Bowls. I don’t care about anything. I just want to win a Super Bowl. I want to know what that feels like to win a Super Bowl trophy. And there was a moment in the fourth quarter, when we had a 20-10 lead, and there was about eight minutes left, and I thought I was going to get that.”
Staley was a first-round draft choice in 2007 out of Central Michigan. He played for six head coaches over that span: Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula, Chip Kelly and Shanahan.
The 49ers used the ninth overall pick in 2018 on tackle Mike McGlinchey who has started at right tackle the past two seasons. The team has also has Shone Coleman, Justin Skule and Daniel Brunskill, who may start at right guard, as options at tackle.
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