Landing a Pro Bowl-caliber offensive tackle at a bargain rate is a cause for joy. In the 49ers’ case, it brings a little sadness, too.
Acquiring Trent Williams for a fifth-round pick in 2020 and a third-rounder in 2021 is a bold move that should make the Niners better over the next few seasons. But it almost certainly signals the end of the road for Joe Staley, the smart, dependable humble man who held down the left tackle position in San Francisco and Santa Clara the past 12 years (and right tackle as a rookie in 2007).
As of this writing, neither Staley nor the 49ers has made an announcement about his future. But it’s hard to imagine the team making room for Staley, Williams and right tackle Mike McGlinchey, the Niners’ first-round draft pick in 2018.
At the time of the trade, Williams, who sat out the entire 2019 season in a contract dispute with Washington, was slated to earn $12.5 million in 2020, the final year of his current deal. It makes little sense that the 49ers would go get him for just one season; presumably, they could have stuck with Staley if they were concerned only with 2020. The hope, I’m sure, is that the Niners can reach agreement on an extension for Williams. He is 31, four years younger than Staley.
Unless Staley has already informed coach Kyle Shanahan of his intention to retire. We’ll try to get some clarity as the day proceeds.