The NFL league year is not yet underway but business is already picking up around the NFL. The original calendar planned to allow teams to begin negotiating with undrafted rookie free agents Tuesday morning at 7:00am pacific. The league made a change to that plan, deciding to allow teams to begin negotiations Monday evening and start officially signing players on Tuesday.
Teams have wasted no time coming to tentative agreements with players and that includes the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have reportedly come to terms with Stanford C Chase Beeler, Cal OL Donovan Edwards and Notre Dame Ian Williams. The Stanford and Cal signings are not surprising if fully confirmed. Ian Williams on the other hand has confirmed he will in fact be heading to San Francisco to sign a contract and come in to training camp.
While UDFAs are often merely camp bodies that provide some depth with an occasional reserve found, once in a while a team will land a diamond in the rough. There is a lot of time left before we'll know if Williams qualifies as a diamond, but he's got some believers out there. Earlier today Tony Pauline of Draftinsider.net rated Williams his number on undrafted free agent.
Williams saw his 2010 campaign cut short and red flags raises after he suffered a knee injury midway through the season. Despite performing well at the combine, he slipped out of the draft's seven rounds. But he has legitimate NFL ability with the potential to play several spots on the defensive line. Rated as a fifth-rounder on many draft boards, Williams could be a steal for any team needing a nose tackle...
When Niners Nation was discussing nose tackles in advance of the draft, Niners Nation rated him the eighth best NT heading into the draft:
The best athleticism of the "lower tier" nose tackles in the draft, there's a lot to like there, especially for the 49ers. He doesn't get after the passer a lot, but he does everything else at a high level. He's a solid anchor who will stop the run every time, and he can occupy two blockers. If Williams gets a good coach and some time to develop, he can be deadly.
The 49ers face questions about Aubrayo Franklin who could be lining up for a monster pay day. If that happens outside of San Francisco, Williams could find himself battling Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois for time at the nose tackle position.