Perhaps girding themselves for the loss of Isaac Sopoaga or Ricky Jean Francois or both, the 49ers today signed backup nose tackle Ian Williams to a two-year extension worth $3.5 million, according to Williams' agent, Drew Rosenhaus. The deal locks in Williams through the 2015 season.
"We are very pleased to extend the contract of a young, talented player like Ian," general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. "He will have the opportunity to continue to grow in our defense, and we look forward to his future development. Paraag (Marathe) and Drew deserve credit for working hard to put this deal together."
Williams (6-1, 305 lbs.) went undrafted out of Notre Dame in 2011, and he admitted that snub has fueled him the past two seasons. "I came in with a suitcase and some dreams," he said in a conference call today.
Williams played scant minutes (32 snaps) this season. But he played well in the preseason and in his brief appearances during the regular season. The 49ers had two players ahead of him, Sopoaga and Jean Francois, on their depth chart. Both, however, are pending free agents who could be in another city by the end of this week.
Jean Francois has received interest from five teams, including the Eagles, Titans and Browns. He's being eyed as both a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme and as a defensive end and/or nose tackle in a 3-4 alignment. Sopoaga's value, meanwhile, is as a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme.
The 49ers don't value their nose tackle as much as other teams. The position leaves the field in passing situations, in which the 49ers found themselves quite often in 2012. Sopoaga, for instance, played only 31 percent of the team's defensive snaps.
The other nose tackle options currently signed for the future include 2012 practice squadder Lamar Divens and Tony Jerod-Eddie, who went undrafted out of Texas A&M last season. Williams has been among the 49ers who have continued to work out in Santa Clara since the season ended.
-- Matt Barrows