Ex-49ers NT Ian Williams shares details of career-ending ankle condition


Ex-49ers NT Ian Williams shares details of career-ending ankle condition

Nose tackle Ian Williams, who sustained fractures to his left ankle in back-to-back seasons, finally made it through an entire season healthy.

Williams experienced a breakout year with the 49ers in 2015, and was set up for a big payday as an unrestricted free agent. And on the eve of free agency, the 49ers agreed to terms with Williams on a five-year contract worth a reported $27.5 million.

But less than two weeks later, then-general manager Trent Baalke told reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, Williams had failed a physical due to an ankle condition. The sides worked out a revised one-year contract.

Williams never played another snap for the 49ers, and on Tuesday he revealed details about the complications from two ankle fractures that ended his career just as he was reaching his prime football years.

“It was a tough time,” Williams said on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

Neither the 49ers nor Williams’ agent disclosed any information about the cause or extent of Williams' physical condition. Williams said he initially heard speculation he injured himself in an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle. He said nothing could have been further from the truth.

Williams said he was walking around Los Angeles with friends early in the 2016 offseason when he first began to feel something was wrong with his ankle. And sensation continued to worsen as he went to Miami to begin his offseason training program.

“I had some surgeries to clear up – I had a bad infection that came back that kept me out longer heading into the 2014 season,” Williams said.

“It was really bad. Luckily, they caught it in time so that I could have the surgeries and get it cleaned out. It basically destroyed my joints. That’s why I haven’t been able to resume my career.”

Williams said he had five or six surgeries over a period of a couple of months in 2016. He knew early on that his football career was over. And if the infection had not been discovered until much later, the consequences could have been even-more devastating.

“After the first surgery I kind of knew then from what the doctor told me what happened and what was going on with my ankle,” Williams said. “Right then and there, it was a pretty rough time in the hospital with my mom.”

Williams, now 28, continues to undergo therapy and rehabilitation on his ankle in the Bay Area, he said.

“I’m doing much better these days,” he said.

“(I’m) trying to get this ankle as good as it can be, so I can play with my kids and do stuff as I get older.”

The initial injury in Week 2 of the 2013 season was the result of a since-outlawed chop block from then-Seattle right guard J.R. Sweezy, who dove at Williams’ legs while attempting a back-side block on a run play to the left.

Williams underwent surgery and missed the final 14 games of the season due to a fractured left lower leg. Williams said he did not use proper technique on the play. It was a large price to play for making a simple mistake.

“That was on me, not being on my P’s and Q’s and not running with the play,” Williams said. “I think I false-stepped the wrong direction first before he dove into my ankle. Just the fact that you make one mistake, you shouldn’t have someone diving at your ankle. If a receiver makes a mistake, you don’t have someone diving at his ankle or knee.

“I’m just glad that they changed that rule. They’re doing more player safety rules now, so I’m really, really excited about that for the future.”

The NFL passed a rule in 2016 that eliminates all forms of chop blocks.

Williams re-fractured his left lower leg after appearing in nine games of the 2014 season. He returned at the beginning of the 2015 season and played in a career-high 16 games before developing the career-ending complications in the offseason.

“It’s always tough to face reality and know that the chapter you’re in is about to close,” he said.

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

AMSTERDAM — Amnesty International gave former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick its Ambassador of Conscience Award on Saturday for his kneeling protest of racial injustice that launched a sports movement and might have cost him his job.

Onetime San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid presented Kaepernick with the award during a ceremony in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

In his acceptance speech, the award-winner described police killings of African Americans and Latinos in the United States as lawful lynchings.

"Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex," Kaepernick said.

Kaepernick first took a knee during the pre-game playing of the American national anthem when he was with the 49ers in 2016 to protest police brutality.

"How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, 'freedom and justice for all,' that is so unjust to so many of the people living there?" he said at Saturday's award ceremony.

Other players joined his protest in the 2016 season, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump, who called for team owners to fire such players.

In response to the player demonstrations, the NFL agreed to commit $90 million over the next seven years to social justice causes in a plan.

Kaepernick wasn't signed for the 2017 season following his release in San Francisco.

Reid, a safety who is now a free agent, continued Kaepernick's protests by kneeling during the anthem last season. Reid has said he will take a different approach in 2018.

Kaepernick paid tribute to his friend for his own role in the protest movement.

"Eric introducing me for this prestigious award brings me great joy," Kaepernick said. "But I am also pained by the fact that his taking a knee, and demonstrating courage to protect the rights of black and brown people in America, has also led to his ostracization from the NFL when he is widely recognized as one of the best competitors in the game and in the prime of his career."

Amnesty hands its award each year to a person or organization, "dedicated to fighting injustice and using their talents to inspire others."

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty called Kaepernick "an athlete who is now widely recognized for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination."

Previous recipients of the award include anti-Apartheid campaigner and South African President Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who campaigned for girls' right to education even after surviving being shot by Taliban militants.

"In truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force," Kaepernick said.

Five NFL Draft options if 49ers make first-round trade

Five NFL Draft options if 49ers make first-round trade

The 49ers have their starting and backup quarterbacks on the roster for at least the next three seasons. That luxury opens up their draft options to concentrate on other areas.

Quarterbacks Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen could be selected within the first eight picks of the draft. If those four quarterbacks are chosen, it means the 49ers will get – at worst – the fifth-ranked player on their draft board.

And if there is still one of those quarterbacks available when the 49ers go on the clock at No. 9 overall, it invites the possibility of a trade-back option.

The 49ers could trade back and still get one of the five players – Tremaine Edmunds, Roquan Smith, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport – highlighted as first-round draft options.

But if the 49ers move further back or acquire an additional pick in the first round, here are some of their options...

OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
The 49ers must start thinking about a time when two new offensive tackles are going to be required. McGlinchey (6-8, 312) began his career at right tackle before shifting to the left side. That versatility could come in handy for the 49ers, as right tackle Trent Brown enters the final year of his contract and might not be back in 2019. Moreover, six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley is 34 years old, and it is uncertain how much longer he can play at a high level. McGlinchey has the athleticism that Shanahan covets. He began high school as a tight end and also played on the basketball team.

OT Kolton Miller, UCLA
Miller is an exceptional athlete who should get better and better. He ran the third-fastest time among offensive linemen at the combine and placed near the top of all the other agility drills. Miller started off his college career on the right side before shifting over to protect the blind side of quarterback Josh Rosen. With any offensive lineman the 49ers select, the club could consider having him begin his career at guard before moving him to tackle whenever the need arises.

CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
Jackson was among the 49ers’ final pre-draft visits to Santa Clara. The team needs another cornerback to join presumptive starters Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. At 6-0 3/8, Jackson is not as tall as initially advertised, but his style of play and long arms would fit well within the 49ers’ scheme. He has great instincts, as shown by his nation-leading eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups.

WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
The consensus best wide receiver in the draft could provide Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan with another option in the passing game to join starters Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin. Garçon is the possession receiver and Goodwin is the deep threat. Ridley is versatile and polished, which makes him a nice chess piece to utilize early in his career for specific matchups.

WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
It should be noted that the 49ers like their receiver corps, a group that also includes Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson and Kendrick Bourne. But Sutton (6-3, 219) would give the 49ers more size to exploit matchups. He gets high marks off the field. There is no rush to get him out there before he is ready. The 49ers can take their time to develop him, as they would have him under their control contractually for five seasons. He has spent time learning from Anquan Boldin.