NFL Draft Day 3 Notebook: Trent Williams Trade Just Right for Aggressive 49ers

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterApril 26, 2020

49ers GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan can celebrate their draft weekend, most of all because of their trade for Trent Williams.
49ers GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan can celebrate their draft weekend, most of all because of their trade for Trent Williams.Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

Offensive lineman Trent Williams wasn't one of the flashy potential stars available in this year's draft. He isn't a fast receiver or a 15-sack pass-rusher with his whole career ahead of him. 

Yet the San Francisco 49ers' acquisition of Williams is one of the biggest moves of the entire draft. It's also, easily, one of the best.

The 49ers got Williams from Washington for fifth-round pick this year and a third-rounder next year. That is startlingly little compensation for a player of Williams' caliber. The Miami Dolphins traded offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans in a deal that brought them two first-round picks last September.

Williams is a seven-time Pro Bowler who played for 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan when he was the offensive coordinator in Washington. He knows Shanahan's zone-blocking schemes well.

The 49ers made a run at Williams because tackle Joe Staley is retiring. Now, the 49ers, with an already potent running game, bring in one of the league's best offensive linemen to essentially replace their OL mainstay.

It's rare for a team to lose a player the caliber of Staley and replace him with a player the caliber of Williams.

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It's the kind of trade that if the New England Patriots made it, there would be a sequel to The Odyssey written, with Bill Belichick as the hero of the story.

This is a slick, aggressive and brilliant move by San Francisco. It shows a lack of satisfaction with reaching the Super Bowl last season. The 49ers are acknowledging these types of moves are needed to stay at the top of a brutal NFC West.

And they didn't stop making deals after getting Williams. They traded running back Matt Breida to the Dolphins for a fifth-round pick Saturday and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (plus a pick) to the Philadelphia Eagles for a sixth-round pick. San Francisco was one of the most active teams of the draft.

As for Williams, he hasn't played in more than a year, but does anyone think he's forgotten how to play football?

The 49ers might not have had the best draft (we won't know who did for years). When we look back, however, this moment might be remembered as one of the more consequential moments from this weekend.

And it had nothing to do with a 4.2 40 or 35-inch arms.

                       

Failure in Washington

Trent Williams
Trent WilliamsFrederick Breedon/Getty Images

You can't discuss this huge trade without looking at how Washington has handled Williams for years.

Remember, the reason he vowed to never play for Washington again was because of how he felt the team mishandled his injuries. He was right to be upset.

The situation was the result of a yearslong saga.

This wasn't the fault of new coach Ron Rivera. He was simply left attempting to clean up the mess.

In the end, what happened was simple. Washington lost a really good player because the previous regime treated Williams like he was drone and not a human being.

And now he's gone.

              

The Fierce NFC West 

Williams enters one of the most competitive divisions not just in the NFL now, but in the recent history of the sport:

  • The 49ers are the defending conference champions.
  • The Seattle Seahawks have future Hall of Famer Russell Wilson and an offense that is still solid.
  • The Arizona Cardinals just added DeAndre Hopkins.
  • The Los Angeles Rams were in the Super Bowl just two years ago.

That is just absolutely brutal.

Fun for the rest of us. But brutal.

                  

The Post-Brady plan

The Patriots did not draft a potential replacement for Tom Brady. But Jarrett Stidham (right) should have some competition for the job.
The Patriots did not draft a potential replacement for Tom Brady. But Jarrett Stidham (right) should have some competition for the job.Elise Amendola/Associated Press/Associated Press

One of the most curious moves of any team in the draft was one that wasn't made. The Patriots, remarkably, didn't pick a quarterback.

Before the draft, teams speculated New England would jump into the early first round to select a QB. Not only did that not happen, but the Patriots were also the only team in the AFC East to not select one.

This means one of two things: Either the team is comfortable with Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer or New England likes its options for a to-be-determined third quarterback, which director of player personnel Nick Caserio said the team would acquire one way or another, as WEEI noted.

Maybe the Patriots had bigger plans than just taking a chance on a prospect and might add Cam Newton or Jameis Winston.

They could also be planning something else we have no clue about. That, too, would be typical New England.

                 

The Good and the Ugly

Derrick Brown headlines a strong Panthers draft class.
Derrick Brown headlines a strong Panthers draft class.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

I asked an AFC general manager to tell me which team had his favorite draft and his not-so-favorite.

First, the good, in the Carolina Panthers, who spent the entire draft on defense: "The Panthers did what a franchise should do when it really needs to transform one side of the ball. They drafted two or three players who will start almost immediately. [Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown] is a definite future Pro Bowler."

Now, the bad: "I don't know what the Packers did. Can you explain what the f--k they did?"

(No, I cannot.)

He pointed to the fact that the Packers didn't use any of their early picks on wide receivers to help Aaron Rodgers and drafted players at positions that weren't needs, including quarterback and running back.

                 

Will There Be a Season?

When speaking to teams about the draft, I asked something else, and the question was simple: Will there be a season?

Of four team executives and two coaches polled, all said they believe there will be.

However, only three said there should be. They believe holding a season will be too dangerous for the players, as well as others who are around the team, like coaches and family members.

I also heard for the first time speculation from coaches who think there may be a handful of players who refuse to practice or play until they feel it's safe to do so.

The league, and players, will likely have some brutal choices to make...just like the rest of the country.

               

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.

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