Is Trent Williams stance hurting the 49ers offense?

Is Trent Williams tipping plays?

Following the 49ers loss to Chicago in the season opener, Bears rookie defensive end Dominique Robinson said noticed Williams tended to kick his left leg for a pass play.

Jessie Naylor of Last Second Sports, a YouTube channel which focuses on the 49ers and Lions, noted on Monday that Williams stance still seemed to be different depending on if the play was a run or a pass.

Having a tell could lead to negative consequences.

This happens often in baseball where batters spend hours looking at pitchers to gain any advantage possible.

One historic example of this involves former San Francisco Giant great Will Clark during the 1989 NLCS against the Chicago Cubs.

According to Clark, he noticed Greg Maddux telling his catcher what the next pitch would be during a meeting at the mound. Knowing what was coming, Clark blasted a grand slam. From that point on pitchers began to cover their mouth with their glove.

By the numbers, Trent Williams varied stances are not having a negative impact on the 49ers offense.

In 2019, the 49ers offense averaged six yards per play, 33.1 yards per possession and a sack on 6.94% of their pass attempts.

Since the start of 2021, the 49ers offense has averaged 6 yards per play, while averaging 34.7 yards per possession in 2021 and 34.1 yards per possession so far this season. In addition, the 49ers pass protection has been better. In 2021 they allowed a sack on 5.92% of their pass attempts and have allowed a sack on 6.06% of their pass attempts so far this season.

Taking this discussion further, while the pictures show a different stance for run plays and pass plays, there is yet to be any evidence that Trent Williams is tipping plays.

Let’s say the Cardinals defense on Monday night is keying in on the left leg of Trent Williams, and in doing so identify that a run is about to come. Kyle Shanahan has a wide variety of running plays to choose from which keeps the advantage on the side of the offense.

Having a tell that a specific play was coming would be a much more difficult to overcome.

It is the same thing with the passing game.

Another reason the stance doesn’t impact the offense, is a portion of Kyle Shanahan plays are run-pass options, otherwise known as RPO’s.

On an RPO, the play will be either a run or pass depending on the defense. As a result, offensive linemen are run blocking regardless of what the quarterback decides to do with the ball. San Francisco called a number of these during win over the Chargers on Sunday night. If Trent Williams was tipping plays, it would play to San Francisco’s advantage in these instances.

The 49ers inability to score points on offense has nothing to do with the stance of the left tackle.

This is an offense which has dropped 20 passes through the first nine games compared to 26 last season and 28 in 2019.

For the third season in a row the 49ers have turned the ball over more than their opponents. This, along with poor special teams play means the average starting offensive field position is their own 28. Tough sledding for an offense which finds ways to shoot itself in the foot on a consistent basis.

This article has 23 Comments

    1. Dee,

      As long as Williams is consistent with his stance on run and pass downs, it should not impact what Shanahan is doing because the picture he is seeing isn’t changing. Hope that makes sense.

  1. That’s very interesting that someone would pick up on small changes to his stance and great of you to put it in perspective. If it works, keep doing it. I also agree that the biggest problem the offense has is dropped passes and it looks like we are headed for a huge number if it doesn’t improve quickly. Since we don’t pass as much as a lot of teams, the rate of drops per pass attempt must be pretty high.

  2. Does it bother you that so much if your content is ripped off from Grant Cohn. Almost all your articles cover topics and analysis he has already put out there. Come up with your own thoughts please.

    1. Got news for you Tom – this stance issue is not a Cohn exclusive. Hammer is reporting on something that’s been floating around for quite some time, back to the season opener. Just google trent williams stance or trent williams tipping plays

      1. BTW Hammer, thanks for that historical tidbit on the origin of mound conferees talking into their gloves.

  3. grant did talk about his several weeks ago. That said, it is about time that deebo stopped dropping passes and begin to restore his performance from the last year. In truth, Deebo has been less than dominant since he was overpaid this summer. Seems to be less passionate. We shall see if he is better in the second half.

  4. How many other OT’s in the NFL use a different stance in pass blocking situations, as opposed to run plays? My guess would be more than a few…considering the size of OT’s, and then the speed and strength of edge rushers, maybe the modification is needed, to help the OT with his job forcing the rusher to the outside…maybe the stance alteration is something that O line coaches suggest and endorse, if it makes the tackle more effective

  5. It’s a moot point. TW is a 9 time ProBowl and a All-Pro.
    Whatever flaws show up in his game are blown-away by his great success over his brilliant career.

    Sports writers that dwell on a flaw and ignore TW’s importance on the 49ers Oline fits a subject that has been promoted of late…. “overreation.”

    1. Have nothing but respect for the time Jessie put in before sending out the tweet that brought this back up.

      It’s a solid question, and definitely created a lot of discussion.

      1. If Jessie gave a respectable prelude to TW’s amazing career before tweeting his flaws, it would be more acceptable. But I didn’t see this in his tweet.

  6. Moving on from the Chargers to clipping the wings of the Cardinals in week 11:

    * QB: whether it’s Murray or McCoy, the 9er D needs to pressure both and force them to make bad decisions.
    * J J Watt: He maybe 33 Y/O, but he has 5 sacks and getting hot at the right time of the season. He has 3 sacks in 3 games and posted one sack, one fumble recovery and five QB hits against the
    * James Conner: He’s missed 3 games this season. But Week 10
    showed he can handle a similar workload from last season’s Pro Bowl campaign, when he posted 18 total touchdowns. He received all except five of the Cardinals’ 26 carries last weekend, rushing for 69 yards and two touchdowns. In his last meeting against the 49ers, he had the best game of his 2021 season, with 96 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns and five receptions for 77 yards and one receiving touchdown.
    * DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore: They combined for 192 receiving yards against the Rams.
    * Marquise Brown: The Cardinals designated Brown to return from injured reserve this week, allowing him to practice and be reinstated to the 53-man roster. He could be activated to play Monday night.
    * Mexico City altitude: At 7349 feet, the players conditioning will be a factor.
    * 49ers 27 Cardinals 20

  7. its not everything but its not nothing. in the NFL when most games seem to come down to a few plays I can imagine scenarios where Trent tipping plays has hurt them and contributed to a loss. I get that there are plenty of plays where its obvious they are running or passing but part of the time they are trying to get an advantage by deceiving the defense a bit. Obviously its not the only reason but when defenders are bragging about it then it should be a bit of a concern

    1. Huejastle,
      I definitely see your point.
      But when it comes to tipping off plays, we can also add Shanahan’ use of Deebo lining up in the backfield. Deebo gets the carry almost each time he’s in this package. Until Shanahan can play fake off this package and go elsewhere with the ball, the defensive alignments will nullify the play more often than not.
      Also, TW is one of the best athletes to ever play the Oline position. Which means that he has proved that he can overcome any quirks or flaws in his career to be one of the all-time greats.

      1. the concern about Trent tipping plays has little to do with his individual performance against an individual opponent. It has an effect on all the players and the entire play. Especially if the opponent goes into the game looking for it. the reason its become such a topic is that Trent was called out for it after week 1 and its still an issue. If they clean it up that is great but why did it take players making comments, viral tweet threads and questions from reporters to clean it up? seems like a correctable mistake. is it too much to ask the best o linemen to clean up a mistake?

    2. Watch the Cohn Zone, and the two videos of Chris Forester and Trent Williams, both addressing this ‘issue’..which is probably a non issue

  8. Williams noted that the offense can run 50 different runs off 6 looks.
    In this scenario the defense has to guess which run out of the 50 will be coming.

    One question I have to ask regarding TW’s two different stances is this. Has this been a common occurrence during his career or did it only begin this season. And why are sports writers cherry picking a minor flaw as if game losses have TW partly to blame.
    How about dropped passes, bone headed mistakes leading to penalties and bad CB/Safety play that contributes to long completions and even TDs as we saw against the Chargers when Hufanga took a bad angle and lost his coverage.

    I’m not debating your take on this, because you have made a cogent point.
    This is more having to do with a few media sports writers who want to make a big deal out of nothing.

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