SANTA CLARA (AP) — Free agent nose tackle Ian Williams has reached a new five-year deal to remain with the San Francisco 49ers, a person with direct knowledge of the agreement said Wednesday.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity at the start of the NFL’s new calendar year because the contract hadn’t been announced.
Williams has emerged as an important member in the middle of San Francisco’s once-stout defense, which lost linebacker Patrick Willis to retirement last March, followed by Chris Borland and veteran defensive end Justin Smith. Aldon Smith also was released, then joined the Oakland Raiders before being hit with a yearlong suspension.
The 26-year-old Williams had 65 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble while starting all 16 games last year during the 49ers’ 5-11 season. San Francisco missed the playoffs for the second straight season and first-year coach Jim Tomsula was fired, replaced by Chip Kelly in January.
Williams returned from two different devastating injuries to contribute to the 49ers last season for an entire year.
He began 2013 as starting nose tackle, then sustained a season-ending lower leg injury in a Week 2 loss that year on a cut block by Seattle right guard J.R. Sweezy. Williams underwent four surgeries near the ankle— having screws and plates put in and then removed — and began the 2014 training camp on the physically unable to perform list following an offseason setback.
He broke his leg in a Week 10 game during the 2014 season and wound up ending on injured reserve for the second straight year.