You wouldn't need to be on the team for long to take note of the heightened energy surrounding the San Francisco 49ers. Coming off an unfulfilled Super Bowl run, the team is eager to re-write the ending to their fairy tale season just a year ago.
That inscription began on Monday, as the team assembled for the first time since February for the start of training camp. San Francisco's new Pro Bowl left tackle quickly took notice of the rejuvenated vibe surrounding the team.
"You can tell this is a hungry group of guys and I feel like I fit right in," Trent Williams said of his first week of training camp. "As soon as you walk into the building, the vibe is different. I think the first time with us all being together, I could just feel the vibe then. This environment here that Kyle (Shanahan) and John (Lynch) have created – they've done an outstanding job. They've got a bunch of like-minded fellas in the locker room. I think everybody feeds off each other and everybody encourages each other. It's just one of those things that you've got to experience to believe."
Aside from reuniting with members of the 49ers coaching staff, the team's winning culture made San Francisco a preferred landing spot for the left tackle. Williams endured eight seasons of no postseason appearances across his 10-year NFL career. He also joins San Francisco after being sidelined the entire 2019 offseason following a dispute with the Washington Football Team's front office over his health. Williams underwent three surgeries after being diagnosed with cancer last year. After missing last season, opting out of the 2020 season due to the effects of COVID-19 wasn't even in consideration, as the left tackle admits to being "ecstatic" about his return to the field.
"It's been nerve wracking, honestly," Williams said. "I'm just so ecstatic just to get back in the building, put a jersey on, put my helmet back on, just get around the guys and feel the camaraderie in the locker room. Just that friendship, that bond that you get that comes with the team, I think I missed that a lot over the last 12 to 14 months. It just felt too good to be true. And honestly, I know we have a lot going on, but I was so excited just to get back in the swing of things. I kind of overlooked it."
Williams doesn't see his time away as a hurdle in his fresh start in San Francisco. He's more concerned with keeping his nerves in check than working off any perceived "rust." Regardless of the fact, the 49ers have a host of young talent to aid Williams in readjusting to the NFL. In particular, Williams specified the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year to assist in the transition.
"(Nick Bosa) is going to be a pivotal tool for me to use to knock the rust off," Williams said. "He's probably one of the biggest challenges that I'll face all year. He's one of the top four or five rushers in the game. To get that work and be able to have that every day, and we can kind of bounce ideas off each other and talk each other through it. I think it's going to work out as best-case for me, and I hope he gains just as much as I do from it."