Sakamoto: 49ers NT Ian Williams Out For Season, Glenn Dorsey Next?

The San Francisco 49ers opened up training camp on a bad note with the announcement that starting NT Ian Williams will be out for the 2016 season. The team’s best defensive player in run support and anchor in the middle was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list (NFI List) which abruptly ends his season.

Earlier this off-season, I caught up with one his close friends on the team, and he told me that “it wasn’t looking good,” for the former Notre Dame Irish. Williams has been no stranger to injuries since breaking into the league as an UDFA (Undrafted Free-Agent) in 2011.

The most notable injury coming in a Week 2 matchup against the hated rival Seattle Seahawks in 2013. An injury that saw Seahawks RG J.R Sweezy dive at Williams’ leg while then proceeding to roll over it (cut block), some considered the play ‘dirty.’



Just like the upcoming 2016 season, Williams would then be ruled out for the year while recovering from the broken left ankle. It’s that same ankle that cost Williams a 5-year contract extension this off-season. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the deal was worth upwards of $5 to $6 million per season. However, due to Williams being unable to pass a physical, the 49ers rescinded that contract offer, re-worked his deal to a one-year offer worth up to $6 million.

A huge loss for Williams who has earned the respect, love, and praise from his teammates. But Williams remains optimistic through it all, as I’m told he’s taking this as just another obstacle in his path to being an NFL star. Could that be a reason why the 49ers opted to select DE DeForest Buckner in the first-round of this year’s NFL Draft? No.

D-Fo was the highest rated player on their board regardless of position. In fact, he received a grade in the high 80’s out of a possible 100 according to one of my sources. The only defensive player rated higher was DE/OLB Joey Bosa who remains unsigned with the San Diego Chargers.

So with Williams out indefinitely for the 2016 season how does that affect the team’s defensive line? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but don’t be surprised if NT/DE Glenn Dorsey is next. Like Williams, Dorsey has been injury-prone since signing with San Francisco as a free-agent back in 2013. He missed the entire 2014 season with a torn biceps injury, while then tearing his ACL in 2015 (ironically) at Century Link Field.

A promising first-round pick (No. 5) in the 2008 NFL Draft, one would hope that Dorsey can remain healthy for a full 16-game season. But that could be wishful thinking, as Dorsey has only done that three times in eight seasons thus far. Now, I’m hearing that Dorsey could be placed on the pre-season PUP list (Physically Unable-To-Perform).

[Related Article: 49ers DE Quinton Dial Should Be Dialed Up at Nose Tackle In Glenn Dorsey’s Absence]

If this is the case, that means Dorsey will miss the entire off-season program which includes training camp, which in turns means that NT Mike Purcell is the next man up. One would think that DE Quinton Dial would kick inside to nose tackle like he did back in 2014, but I doubt it, as I’m told that new 49ers DLC Jerry Azzinaro wants Dial setting the edge in run support while keeping everything inside.

[VIDEO: 49ers DLC Jerry Azzinaro Briefly Stops Practice to Teach the Art of Stack-And-Shed]

With the 49ers trying to find healthy bodies up front, it will be interesting to see how the rotation shapes up, as plenty of new faces will now have their chance to shine.

In 31 regular season-games, Williams has recorded 91 tackles (6 for loss), 2.0 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.


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Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.