At nose tackle on defense, the San Francisco 49ers have to find a replacement for former starter Isaac Sopoaga who is now with the Philadelphia Eagles. Sopoaga spent the past nine seasons mostly starting at nose tackle for the Niners. Heading into 49ers training camp, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is looking at either Ian Williams or Glen Dorsey to take over as the starting nose tackle.
So far at training camp, Williams is the front-runner to win the starting job. He has been given a majority of the first-team reps at nose tackle over Dorsey and his coaches are likening what they see in the third-year veteran. Fangio said,
Ian’s worked extremely hard since he’s gotten here from day one, but really kicked it up this offseason. He’s played very well. He’s always been a good worker here, but he just kicked it up a notch. I think he saw an opportunity, we signed him to an extension which gave him a message. Two nose tackles ahead of him are no longer here. I think he’s matured as a worker and as a professional football player.
Fangio went to say the competition between Williams and Dorsey at nose tackle is far from over. But it is clear through his comments the position is Williams’ to lose. The extension Fangio referred to was the two-year contract Williams signed in March.
Williams has only appeared in four games, with zero starts, and recorded three tackles in his career, but his experience as a backup the past two seasons is helping him. His knowledge of Fangio’s defensive system and schemes gives him a huge advantage in winning the starting job over Dorsey and rookie nose tackle Mike Purcell.
As an undrafted rookie out of college, Williams knows he cannot waste an opening to become a starter in the NFL. Should he win the starting job, he knows a lot of credit will be owed to his fellow players on defense.
Coming into a good situation with a veteran crew around me and guys who really took me under their wing and taught me, even though I was coming in to compete at their position, those guys really brought me under their wing.