Trent Williams says biggest key for 49ers in 2021 will be to stay healthy

Buffalo Bills v San Francisco 49ers
Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers will not be making a return trip to the Super Bowl this year. They won’t be making a return trip to the playoffs at all.

The outlook for the 49ers season went south quickly due to numerous injuries to several key players. Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas were lost for the season to torn ACLs in September. Jimmy Garoppolo and Richard Sherman missed large chunks of time to injuries. Running backs Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Jeff Wilson Jr. also have missed games. Dee Ford is out for the year. Deebo Samuel and George Kittle have missed numerous games. They’ve had to start three different quarterbacks as well.

And that’s not all of the injuries the team has faced this year.

The 49ers season will end on Sunday after their game with the Seattle Seahawks, who have replaced the 49ers as the NFC West champion this season. What will it take for the team to be back in the battle for the division crown in 2021? For left tackle Trent Williams, it’s a pretty obvious answer.

Stay healthy,” he said, via Matt Barrows of TheAthletic.com.

The 49ers still have six wins this despite playing in a division that could still send three teams to the playoffs depending on results this weekend. They were 4-3 and still in the hunt at the end of October before the injuries became too much to overcome and a run of better teams on the schedule took its toll. Their defense still ranks fifth in the league despite all the games lost to injury on that side of the ball this year.

“I honestly think that we would be fighting for a No. 1 seed right now,” Williams said. “The proof is in the pudding. They did it last year, so it’s not like I’m reaching for something. I definitely think that’s our potential, and that’s what we should have been if we weren’t so banged up.”

There’s no doubt injuries have played a major role in the 49ers season. However, it may not quite be as simple as “just get healthy and everything is great.” Sherman doesn’t expect to be back next year. Williams is a free agent. So are Thomas, Jaquiski Tartt and Kyle Juszczyk. Garoppolo didn’t play as well this year even when healthy as he did last season for the team.

But the fact that the 49ers struggles aren’t because of a significant lack of talent should give them a good chance at rebounding next year. Williams may or may not be a part of that depending on how free agency shakes out, but after missing a year in a dispute with Washington over a cancerous growth on his head Williams was glad to be back on the field this year.

“It sucks that we didn’t fulfill our potential,” he said. “But it’s definitely sweet getting back out there with the guys and feeling that adrenaline rush again of playing football.”