A week into their training camp and the San Francisco 49ers have been hard at work gearing up for the 2013 season. One of the biggest questions entering training camp was who would take over as one of the three starting defensive lineman with the departure of Isaac Sopoaga and backup Ricky Jean-Francois.
A week into camp and Ian Williams, a player who saw little to no playing time in his first two seasons, has impressed and made a strong claim early to be the starting nose tackle. Williams has impressed so much so that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and Patrick Willis have commented on how Williams has looked so far in camp.
Given that there is a starting nose tackle up for grabs between Williams and free-agent pickup Glenn Dorsey, the fact that Williams has gotten off to a very good start in camp bodes well. While Williams has not had the chance to be a significant contributor so far in his first two seasons with the 49ers, it is clear that they like what he can bring evidenced by the fact he received a two-year contract in the offseason.
Obviously, Williams will now have to go out during preseason and show that the work he has put in this past offseason and so far in training camp is warranted of him being named the starting nose tackle. That being said, the early signs are definitely encouraging. Having had the majority of the first team snaps at the nose tackle position shows that Williams has gotten his chance to show he can play and has done enough to continue getting the majority of the snaps at the nose tackle position in practice.
It can be easy to read too much into how some players perform one week into training camp. But in the case of Ian Williams, the fact he has done as well as he has and impressed coaches and teammates speaks well. While the nose tackle position may not be the most vital on the 49ers defense, having a capable and solid player at that position can only make the defense better if Williams continues to impress as he has done so far.