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‘He’s larger than life’: 49ers lineman stands alone before Super Bowl

Chase Young couldn’t help but notice a unique team dynamic when he arrived to the 49ers via a midseason trade.

Each player is assigned one locker room stall at the team’s headquarters in Santa Clara, California. Left tackle Trent Williams has two.

The setup made it clear who San Francisco’s alpha was. The 6-foot-5-inch, 320-pound Williams stands alone among his peers.

“His standing on the team, his standing in the league, he’s the best to ever do it,” Young said. “He deserves everything he gets.”

Williams has forged a Hall of Fame resume despite toiling in Washington the first nine years of his career. He overcame a life-threatening form of skin cancer and has become a respected leader in San Francisco since his arrival in 2020.

All that’s missing for the player nicknamed “Silverback” is a Super Bowl ring. Williams gets his first chance Sunday when the 49ers face the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium.

“I don’t like talking about Hall of Fame-type stuff with players,” said 49ers general manager John Lynch, himself a Hall of Fame player. “He’s a guy I’m not shy about doing that because he’ll be there, and he should be there first ballot. Nothing would help to cement that more than a win in this game.”

Williams acquired his second locker in training camp. It’s home to several personal items such as golf clubs, clothes and shoes. There also are welcome mats with the logo of his company, SBG (Silverback Gorilla). Team equipment director Jay Brunetti mounted a “Silverback 71” nameplate over the additional stall during the regular season.

The entire area is blocked off by stanchions with retractable belts like the ones used to queue guests at a concert or nightclub.

Most players couldn’t get away with annexing locker room space that way. Williams’ sprawling real estate shows the respect he commands within the 49ers organization.

“He’s larger than life,” tight end George Kittle said. “He has a silverback gorilla tatted on his back, and it’s on his private jet. It’s Trent Williams.”

In 2019, Williams was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue tumor (dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans) and underwent surgery to remove a cancerous growth on his head. Williams said he first noticed the growth back in 2013 and blamed the Washington organization for not discovering it sooner. He spoke candidly about the diagnosis in the 2021 documentary “Silverback.”

After he sat out the 2019 season, Williams was traded to the 49ers in April 2020 for third- and fifth-round draft picks. He’s earned All-Pro honors the past three seasons.

Williams, 35, was voted to the Pro Bowl for the 11th time this year, tying Hall of Famers Anthony Muñoz, Jonathan Ogden and Willie Roaf for most among offensive tackles in NFL history. Winning a Super Bowl would cement his status as an all-time great.

“It means everything because this is what you work for,” Williams said. “As a professional you want to be at the top, a chance to be on this stage. This is what everybody dreams about. As far as legacy, it does add a different ring to it when you say Super Bowl champion.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on X.

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