Niners nose tackle Ian Williams was relishing his new role as a starter. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Just hours before the 49ers were to play the Seahawks in Seattle Sunday night, 49ers nose tackle Ian Williams posted a picture of himself on Instagram with the message, “Time to go get this Dub!!!”
Williams, in his first season as the Niners’ starter at the position, was pumped up to get a win, and to show what he could do after earning the job in training camp over veteran Glenn Dorsey.
And the 49ers were excited about what he could bring to the defense in 2013.
As 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had said this summer, Williams had taken his game to another level.
“He just kicked it up a notch,” Fangio told reporters during training camp. “I think he saw an opportunity. We signed him to an extension, which gave him a message.”
Added Fangio: “We’ll be fine there (at nose tackle) between him and Glenn Dorsey.”
Just minutes into Sunday night’s game, however, Williams went down with an injured left ankle, the result of a low block from Seattle guard J.R. Sweezy, and had to be helped off the field. And on a night when the news was terrible for the 49ers – who suffered a 29-3 loss to their division rivals – the initial reports on Williams were that he may be out for the rest of the season with a broken ankle.
Now, the addition of Dorsey, the fifth overall selection of the Chiefs in the 2008 draft, appears more important than ever.
The veteran, signed as a free agent this offseason, quickly made an impact Sunday night, making a sack of Russell Wilson on his first series. For the night, he was in on four tackles and had the one sack. In the Week 1 victory over Green Bay, he had one tackle.
The injury to Williams would leave the 49ers with four defensive lineman, aside from Dorsey: Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Demarcus Dobbs and Tony Jerod-Eddie. The Niners also have Mike Purcell on their practice squad, a 6-foot-3, 303-pound undrafted rookie from Wyoming. Draft pick Tank Carradine is injured.
It will be Dorsey, however, who will now fill Williams’ role.
Though he wasn’t able to beat out Williams, Dorsey earned high praise from 49ers coaches and teammates during training camp. Leaving the Chiefs has given the former LSU All-America a chance to re-energize his career.
“Just doing a wonderful job,” 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula said of Dorsey last month. “Works at it and picks it up quick. I couldn’t say enough good things about Glenn Dorsey and where he’s at right now.”
As the 49ers lick their wounds from Sunday night’s mauling in Seattle, they also have other injury concerns, too: rookie safety Eric Reid’s status after a possible concussion, that knocked him out of the game; a late-game injury that left defensive end Ray McDonald limping; and a hamstring injury to tight end Vernon Davis.
But the injury to Williams Sunday was the one that hurt the most. Beginning this Sunday at Candlestick Park against the visiting Indianapolis Colts, Dorsey will move into the starting lineup and get his chance to be a difference-maker.