After a tumultuous 2019, in which Williams and the Washington Football Team went through an ugly breakup stemming from a cancerous growth on his head and his alleged treatment from team doctors, it was fair to question whether or not he’d be able to bounce back with a new team. After all, even though he was a proven top-tier player with seven consecutive Pro Bowls under his belt to end his stint in Washington, he was entering a new 49ers system at age 32 with a whole year removed since he had last played.
All he did to prove the skeptics wrong was rank first at his position on Pro Football Focus with a 91.9 overall blocking grade, just barely beating out David Bakhtiari (91.8) to claim his throne atop the list of offensive tackles. Pro Bowl honor No. 8 came soon after, and the 49ers were likely very glad with their decision to give up a pair of mid-round picks in return for his dominance in the trenches.
He played himself into a massive six-year, $138 million extension — a huge amount of money for someone who’d be in his late 30s at its conclusion — but if there were any worries from some still-not-convinced Niners fans out there, his start to the 2021 season should have done more than enough to dispel those fears.
Forget about the highest PFF grade at his position or at any position on the offensive line. Forget about the highest PFF grade of any player in the NFL. Through 10 weeks (eight games, for Williams) of the 2021 season, Williams is posting the highest PFF grade ever — well, at least for as long as the PFF Era has been around, dating back to the mid 2000s.
According to PFF’s Mark Chichester, the highest graded players ever entering the 2019 season were 2007 Jonathan Ogden and 2018 Aaron Donald, both earning 95.0 figures in their analytically near-perfect performances. Looking through the past two seasons that weren’t included on this list, no one touches Williams’ 97.8 grade. Teammate George Kittle came close, with a 95.0 grade in 2019, and Aaron Rodgers’ 2020 MVP season and Aaron Donald’s 2020 DPoY season were both given 94.5 marks.
Elijah Mitchell is great and all, and he’s done an admirable job in replacement of Raheem Mostert and an underwhelming Trey Sermon, but let’s be real: I think I could average close to four yards per carry with a 98.9 run blocker leading the charge.
But 97.8? That’s “utterly unprecedented” like Meirov said, completely ludicrous, absolutely baffling, and all the other adverb-adjective combinations you can think up. If he gets better with age, who knows what he’ll look like by the end of his contract.
Jordan Cohn, Audacy Sports
Article posted on November 17, 2021.