Sakamoto: What’s Next For 49ers If NT Ian Williams Departs In Free-Agency?


Yesterday, I wrote an article on who I believe the San Francisco 49ers should target, as I compiled a list of my top five free-agent candidates. And while New York Jets unrestricted free-agent NT Damon Harrison was not on the list, do not count him out, as 49ers GM Trent Baalke could make a run at him, if he lets NT Ian Williams walk in free-agency.

Harrison is scheduled to become an unrestricted free-agent, as the Jets will unlikely use a franchise tag on a two-down player. And with Pro Bowl DE Muhammad Wilkerson still in negotiations on a long-term contract, that may leave Harrison as the odd man out in New York.


So what does Harrison exactly bring to the table? Will the team pony up top dollar for a two-down nose tackle? Those are all valid questions as Harrison will likely receive a contract worthy of upwards of $5 million per year.

In 2015, Harrison had a breakout campaign in which he amassed 72 tackles, 0.5 sacks, and 8 tackles for loss while being named by Pro Football Focus as the 2015 Best Run Defender. A true two-gap clog in the middle of a 3-4 defense, Harrison will have no drop off in production from Williams’ departure. He can stack-and-shed with the best of them while peaking into the backfield.

In a 3-4 defense it’s imperative the team has a true 3-4 nose guard who can not only hold the point of attack but collapse the pocket when needed. And while Harrison may not be the best pass-rusher as he only has 1.5 sacks to his credit, his run stuffing ability can not be denied.

With the 49ers looking to shore up their roster on both sides of the ball, they will need to first address the nose tackle position, as it’s the most important position in a 3-4 defense. And while I believe Williams should be awarded, I’m not sure that will happen in San Francisco as the two sides have yet to agree to a long-term extension.

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.