SANTA CLARA — No matter how sour their Washington tenures ended, Trent Williams and Kyle Shanahan are playing for championship stakes now with the 49ers, and that factors into Saturday’s approach against the visiting Commanders (7-6-1).
“It’s so hard to go forward when you’re looking back, right?” Williams said at his locker Thursday. “If you drove home looking in the rear-view the whole time, you’d probably wreck.”
Williams is now three seasons removed from Washington’s wreckage, which included their mishandling of his cancer diagnosis before his eventual trade in 2020 to the 49ers.
“I just made my 10th Pro Bowl, and hopefully have back-to-back All-Pro seasons. That’s what I’m focused on,” Williams added. “I’m not focused on turmoil or trials and tribulations that I’ve overcome or anything like that. I don’t hold any grudge.”
Shanahan did his best to hide his disdain for embattled Commanders owner Daniel Snyder. “My issues will never, never be different. They are what they are and that’s not changing,” said Shanahan, who was Washington’s offensive coordinator under his father, Mike, until they were run off after the 2013 season.
Personal issues aside, the 49ers (10-4) are seeking to win their eighth straight game and possibly climb up from the NFC’s No. 3 seed for next month’s playoffs. That’s enough incentive to focus on, not to mention an adversary that is in playoff contention themselves.
“I have no problem with and love (coach) Ron Rivera. I think he’s awesome and respect the hell out of him,” Shanahan added. “I love Martin (Mayhew, Washington’s general manager) and think he’s the man. They’re trying to do it the right way and I’m impressed what they’ve done in the past two years. They’re a good football team and I respect the people in charge.”
Added Williams: “If it was family or something may look at it differently, but this is business. I’m not looking forward to anything other than looking forward to improve our chances to move up in the seedings and just getting ready to start the playoffs.”
Opponents are 0-12 this season the week after playing the 49ers. “It’s a record we’re aware of and one we thing is pretty cool,” Shanahan said.
Although the Kansas City Chiefs won the next game they played after facing the 49ers, that 20-17 overtime win against the Titans came after the Chiefs’ bye week. “It’s a pretty cool stat,” Shanahan added. “It could be coincidence but we like to think not. We’ll take it that way.”
Excluding the Chiefs’ delayed win, 49ers’ opponents have been outscored 312-203 in those 12 combined losses. Seattle, which lost to the 49ers 21-13 last Thursday, will try to snap that hangover curse when they visit the Chiefs on Saturday.
As for Brock Purdy’s oblique and rib injuries, he was limited in practice but said Wednesday he feels a lot better than prior to last Thursday’s game in Seattle. “He was able to do everything,” Shanahan said. “He took it a little easier at the beginning of the week but still made the throws and got better each day. That should continue up to Saturday.”
Purdy took all 64 snaps in Thursday’s win at Seattle and threw two touchdown passes for the third straight game. “I knew that I was going to start the game and roll from there and see how it felt, but there was never a question of if I was going to play or not,” Purdy said Tuesday.
KINLAW TO PLAY
Shanahan expects defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (knee) to come off injured reserve and play Saturday for the first time in three months.
Kinlaw impressed Shanahan with Wednesday’s return to practice and he experienced no setbacks as he practiced again Thursday. “It went real cool, like riding a bike,” Kinlaw said. “I was trying to pick up where I left off with great technique and pad level, and I’ll contribute however I can.”
Kinlaw said his 6-foot-5, 319-pound frame makes it difficult to play with low pad level, but when he does, “I’ve got brute strength, move-people strength. I can manhandle people.”
PRO BOWL SNUBS
Shanahan said he avoids announcing Pro Bowl honors in a team setting because, “I know how happy some people cheer, and I don’t want to look at the other guys who are crushed.”
On that latter note, Shanahan said linebacker Dre Greenlaw was the 49ers’ biggest snub and “without a doubt” deserved his first Pro Bowl berth; Greenlaw was not even named as an alternate behind the NFC’s two inside linebackers, the 49ers’ Fred Warner and the New Orleans Saints’ Demario Davis. “He’s had a Pro Bowl year. He’s been great,” Shanahan said of Greenlaw, who offset his disappointment by saying he only seeks his coaches’ and teammates’ respect.
Shanahan suggested that running back Christian McCaffrey should have been a NFC starter rather than an alternate. The six 49ers who did make the Pro Bowl: Warner, Williams, Nick Bosa, Kyle Juszczyk, George Kittle, and Talanoa Hufanga.
“If somebody asked you who is the most effective, productive halfback in the NFL, I think nine out of 10 people would say Christian right now,” Williams said. “I understand, Dre. I know to people not in the Bay, he’s kind of new, when you talk about a name basis. When you talk about production, you know how it is, there’s a lag time. You usually make it one year after you deserve to make it.”
— Ruled out were wide receiver Deebo Samuel (knee, ankle), quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (foot) and defensive tackle Kevin Givens (knee). Samuel’s recovery is on track and he did individual conditioning on the side, with a compression sleeve on his injured left leg and a football in his right hand. Garoppolo has not been seen on the practice field but he did wheel into the locker room on Tuesday on a knee scooter with his left foot out of a hard cast.
— Jordan Mason, the backup running back to Christian McCaffrey, popped up on the injury report with hamstring tightness from Wednesday’s session and is listed as questionable.
— Cornerback Charvarius Ward practiced all week in limited fashion and is in the final stages of clearing the NFL concussion protocol. He was cleared to return to last Thursday’s game after a concussion evaluation but coaches and trainers kept him on the sideline and replaced him with Janoris Jenkins the final 14 plays. He’s listed as questionable, as are cornerback Ambry Thomas (ankle), defensive lineman Kerry Hyder Jr. (ankle) and safety Tarvarius Moore (knee).
YOUNG TO DEBUT
Defensive end Chase Young’s season debut for the Commanders will likely be limited to 12 to 16 snaps, as he’s been out since November 2021 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. “He practiced with confidence. He had a good week, so we’re pretty excited about that,” coach Ron Rivera told the team’s website.
Young was the No. 2 overall pick in 2020 out of Ohio State and won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, just as former college teammate Nick Bosa did as the 2019 No. 2 pick.
The Commanders ruled out offensive tackle Saahdiq Charles (concussion); questionable are safety Kamren Curl (ankle) and cornerback Benjamin St-Juste (ankle).
In honor of Chase Young making his season debut this weekend, let’s take a look at Trent Williams repeatedly stonewalling Chase the last time these two went at it. 🦍 #49ers pic.twitter.com/0Fy0K9EJ1S
— Coach Yac 🗣 (@Coach_Yac) December 22, 2022
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