The San Francisco 49ers have had an issue staying healthy throughout training camp, however, back-up is on the way. The Niners activated nose tackle Ian Williams off the physically-unable-to-perform-list on Tuesday and suited up on Wednesday.
Williams practiced for the first time this year as he has been recovering from a broken fibula. Williams is entering the fourth year of his NFL career but has only appeared in six games with one start. That one start was also the last game Williams appeared in. He broke his left fibula during last years week two matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Since then, the Niners relied on veteran lineman Glen Dorsey to fill the nose tackle position. Dorsey performed exceptionally in his first season with Niners but sustained a torn bicep earlier in training camp this year and is out indefinitely.
It will be interesting to see how Williams progresses in his recovery from four surgeries and how he performs in practice due to his lack of experience, despite the labeled three years his stat sheet shows.
"Our last look at Ian was last camp and into the second game." noted Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio.
Time will be the biggest factor in Williams getting back up to speed, not the amount of drills he performs in practice. Getting in as many snaps as possible against real opponents will be key. According to the Mercury News, the 24-year old out of Notre Dame essentially told reporters that drills are nothing like competition.
"It's different running around, cutting, everything like that; that's the easy part," Williams explained. "Anybody can do combine drills like that. But you're pushing against somebody that's 350 pounds, that's totally different than just running the 40. I'm excited just to get back out there and just see how it feels."
Just like Williams, it was the first practice of the year for Smith. The Pro-Bowl defensive tackle had offseason shoulder surgery and the Niners have been careful with his recovery. Injury or not, Smith wasn't expected to play much during the remaining three exhibitions. As Smith enters into his 14th season in league, there's virtually no gain in exposing the "Cowboy" to even the slightest chance of injury. Virtually the same concept applies with McDonald as well. The eighth-year pro had bicep surgery this offseason and had been monitoring a minor leg injury for the past week.
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Tags: Football, Ian Williams, Justin Smith, NFL, Ray McDonald, San Francisco, San Francisco 49ers