- Associated Press
Thursday, September 17, 2020

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Trent Williams seemed to take out all the frustration from sitting out last season on Arizona’s Jordan Hicks.

Williams’ debut for the San Francisco 49ers was punctuated by a crushing, pancake block against Hicks that was one of the rare offensive highlights to go viral on social media.

“We all saw it. Awesome,” defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said Thursday. “I don’t know many human beings his size who can do something like that to a linebacker nonetheless. Usually you see those guys rolling out on DBs, but not a linebacker. But no hesitation. Run through another human being like he wasn’t even there. It was awesome.”

On the play in question in the second quarter of Sunday’s opener against Arizona, Williams fired off the line from his left tackle spot on an end-around run by George Kittle.

Williams went four yards downfield and then flattened an unsuspecting Hicks, driving him back about four yards more before he fell to the turf.

“I knew I would have pretty much a kill shot on him,” Williams said. “I knew I had to get there pretty quick because if you wait on him, he’ll make you miss because he’s lot smaller. I just wanted to get to the second level as fast as I can and take away the option to go either way and just kind of lay him out.”

It was that kind of athleticism and power that attracted the Niners to Williams this offseason when they needed to find a replacement for six-time Pro Bowler Joe Staley after he retired.

Williams did more than just provide the highlight of the game for the 49ers. He also did a good job in pass protection against Chandler Jones, who came into the game with the most sacks in the NFL since 2012.

“Pretty clean cut. He destroyed that guy,” teammate Nick Bosa said. “That’s super impressive and that’s something that not many tackles do. But I’m more impressed with how he held up against Chandler Jones the entire game. He made Chandler like an average dude out there, which is almost impossible to do. For him to do that the first game back is pretty unbelievable. I think it’s really cool to have somebody who’s the best at what they do, bar none, number one, the best at what they do on your team.”

San Francisco was able to acquire Williams in a trade with Washington during the draft and plugged him right into that void. After working off the rust in training camp, Williams once again looked like the seven-time Pro Bowler he was during his time in Washington.

Williams’ long absence was caused by a frustrating finish to his time in Washington. He sat out the entire 2019 season because of a dispute with the front office.

“It felt great being back out there,” he said. “I waited for a long time. At one point, it felt too good to be true. But once the ball kicked off, it was like being back at home, back where I was supposed to be.”

NOTES: CB Ahkello Witherspoon (concussion) returned to practice on a limited basis in a sign he could be ready to replace Richard Sherman on Sunday against the Jets. … Kittle (knee), Richie James Jr. (hamstring) and CB Jason Verrett (hamstring) remain sidelined. … WR Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring) and C Ben Garland (ankle) were full participants in practice for a second straight day and are on target to play Sunday.


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