SANTA CLARA, Calif. — For the third straight day, San Francisco 49ers left tackle Trent Williams did not participate in practice Friday as he continues to recover from a right ankle injury.
Williams, who suffered the ankle sprain in the second half of last week’s win against the Green Bay Packers, is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Los Angeles Rams.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Williams had an elbow sprain leading into the Niners’ Jan. 9 game against the Rams. Despite midweek optimism from Williams and coach Kyle Shanahan, Williams was unable to play in that contest.
But that experience has not changed Williams’ and Shanahan’s positive outlook this time around.
“It’s gonna be like it was three weeks ago,” Shanahan said Friday. “I feel the same way as I did at the beginning of the week. He came out for walk-through today and Trent is adamant that he’s going. He was last time, too — which I believe Trent when he says that. He’s going to do everything he can to play and so I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t, but I was surprised last time.
“I was also surprised he was able to finish the game against Green Bay. So, hopefully his mindset will be how his body reacts on Sunday and we know it will help us a lot. But if not, we’ll deal with it.”
Earlier this week, Shanahan said it was unclear the type of sprain Williams had, noting that some things needed to be sorted out before it was clear if it was a high or low ankle sprain. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who missed time in 2020 with a high ankle sprain, indicated Friday that Williams is dealing with something similar.
“He’s doing everything he can, honestly,” Garoppolo said of Williams. “I’ve seen him in here just putting in the hours in the training room, studying, all that stuff. Hopefully we’ll get him out there, but we’ll see. Those high ankles are never a fun thing — I know that from experience.”
Although he didn’t practice this week, one potential positive development was that Williams participated in the Niners’ pre-practice walk-through Friday. He was seen walking off the field in a jersey — albeit slowly — with a member of the Niners’ training staff after that walk-through session.
If Williams is unable to play, backup Colton McKivitz, who replaced Williams in the previous game against the Rams, will likely step in again. McKivitz earned high marks for what he did in that game aside from a second-half sack yielded to edge rusher Von Miller.
“Colton was unbelievable that game,” Shanahan said. “I was living in hope thinking Trent was going to be able to go and finding that out pregame and just going right up to Colton and just the look on his face, he looked ready. Trent and I both laughed and were like, ‘All right, we’re good.’ And then he went out and played like that … Colton stepped it up huge, and we wouldn’t be here right now if he didn’t play the way he did in that game.”
The Niners are slated to travel to Los Angeles on Friday night, which will give Williams a bit of extra time to recover from the flight and continue to recover from the ankle issue.
“Trent is a monster,” receiver Deebo Samuel said. “You’ve seen that all year long. I’m not going to go too much into detail what the plan is, but once we get there you’ll just see.”
The only other Niners player on the injury report going into Sunday is backup running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury.