No one knows what the future holds, but in the case of Trent Williams, the 49ers hope it includes a large return on their large investment.
San Francisco officially announced the re-signing of the multi-time Pro Bowl left tackle on Tuesday, and with it came a media session that gave Williams a chance to discuss his historic six-year, $138.06 million deal.
Aside from the monster numbers, the most noteworthy aspect of the contract is that its numbers increase across the board as the star lineman gets older. Williams, who is entering his 12h NFL season, acknowledged the challenge of living up to the hefty price tag.
"I think those last years with the numbers being what they are, I think it's an incentive for me to not get complacent. ... I never intend on being below average and the day I do I will hang the cleats up," he said. "But, I'm 32 at this point, about to be 33, when I just look at my career, my career path, I've been to the Pro Bowl the last eight years I've touched the field so I'm not really worried about a decline at the moment. I know six years is a lot to actually go and suffice but I do think it's possible and I do appreciate the 49ers for adding that incentive, to go and get that fifth and sixth year."
Widely hailed as the best blindside protector in the game, Williams will account for an $8.2 million cap hit in 2021 before seeing that number rise with the expected increase in cap space, ultimately reaching a combined $89.26 million the last three years. San Francisco does have a potential out in 2024 (team option) should Williams show signs of decline, but that thought likely hasn't crossed 49ers general manager John Lynch's mind.
Even with his injury history, it's not hard to fathom Williams can play until he's 40, especially considering how he's played to this point. As Williams noted Tuesday, guys like Jason Peters and Andrew Whitworth , both of whom will be 40 by the start of Super Bowl LVI, have maintained a high level of play as they've aged.
Will Williams join that number? Lynch, Kyle Shanahan and the rest of the 49ers brass certainly hope so.
"I think just going off of that and kind of knowing the medicine now and the way the NFL takes care of their players now, yeah, I think playing 'til 40 is well within reach," he said, citing Peters and Whitworth's longevity. "The way I feel right now, I do think I have six years in my body but, you know, I'm not goin' to be unrealistic. I'll take it one day at a time and I'm just going to continue to plug away at it but that is the goal. I have something to prove. Can I play at a high level 'til I'm 40? We'll see."