There's arguably nobody more in-tune with what the 49ers should expect as they transition from Joe Staley as the team's starting left tackle to newly acquired star Trent Williams than Scot McCloughan. He was San Francisco's vice president of player personnel when they moved up in a deal with the Patriots to select Staley in the first round of the 2007 draft. After his stint with the Niners, McCloughan eventually found his way to the Redskins where he saw firsthand as Washington's GM how dominant Williams can be protecting the blindside.
After 13 seasons in the NFL, Staley decided to retire this offseason and the 49ers were quick to find his success, dealing for Williams, who was seeking a trade out of D.C. for quite some time, at the 2020 draft. While Staley's career possibly may land him in Canton one day, McCloughan points out that the 49ers are seeing an upgrade at the position as they look towards the 2020 season and beyond.
"Joe Staley is a really good tackle — don't get me wrong," McCloughan said, via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. "But he ain't Trent Williams. He hasn't been Trent Williams. And won't be Trent Williams when Trent's career is over and you compare them."
Williams, who was selected with the No. 4 overall pick by the Redskins at the 2010 NFL Draft, has been named to seven straight Pro Bowls over the course of his career and was second-team All-Pro in 2016. He'll enter the 2020 campaign at age 32, but by all accounts is still within his prime as a player, despite sitting out all of last season over disputes with Washington. Staley, meanwhile, was named to six Pro Bowls and was listed on the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2010s.
"Staley fit that offense to a T," McCloughan said. "But they're different players. Trent is so talented that he can play in any system. You want to play power football? He's going to play power football, and he's going to wear your ass down. You want to be play finesse football and dance out in space? He'll do that with you all day. That's why he's so unique. These guys … they don't come around very often."
Given how great both players are, the 49ers -- and specifically quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo -- should count themselves fortunate to experience such a seamless transition of elite talent to a pivotal position within their offense.