Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press
San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ian Williams has undergone multiple ankle surgeries, costing him a lucrative, multiyear contract and leaving his status for the 2016 season opener in question.
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Williams Can’t Pass Physical, Settles for 1-Year Deal
Monday, March 21
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Williams’ status on Monday and indicated the new contract is worth up to $6 million—a considerable step down from what would’ve been a five-year, $27.5 million deal.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com confirmed what Schefter reported, adding Williams has been coming along slowly rehabbing his left leg. However, Maiocco reported Williams is “excited” to be back with the team
As Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out, Williams dealt with leg fractures in 2013 and 2014, which allowed him to appear in only 11 of 32 regular-season games in that span.
But Williams did start all 16 games for San Francisco this past season, registering 65 combined tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.
New 49ers coach Chip Kelly was in charge of personnel last offseason with the Philadelphia Eagles and took fliers on players with injury-riddled histories, among many polarizing roster moves.
San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke was ready to reward Williams for his breakout 2015 campaign, but the lingering health issues are an obstacle for the 26-year-old.
Since the 49ers likely have a rebuilding season in 2016 anyway, there’s little reason to rush Williams back. His absence may also create more opportunities for last year’s first-round pick, Arik Armstead, to make an impact in the trenches.
The bigger question, though, is who would take Williams’ place at the difficult position of nose tackle if he can’t go in Week 1. Ourlads.com lists Mike Purcell, a 2013 undrafted free agent out of Wyoming, as the next man up.
Quinton Dial, listed by NFL.com at 318 pounds, is big enough to line up over the center if San Francisco wants to explore that option, leaving Tank Carradine to start at defensive end.