K'Waun Williams

49ers sign defensive back to contract extension

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USATSI

49ers sign defensive back to contract extension

The 49ers have locked up nickel back K’Waun Williams to a three-year contract extension through the 2020 season, the club announced on Friday morning.

“Since joining us this offseason, K’Waun has displayed every trait and characteristic we want to see from our players,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement.

“He is a tremendous competitor on the field and a true professional in our building. K’Waun has continued to get better and better every day and we wanted to ensure he would be a part of what we are building moving forward. I am really excited for both him and our team.”

Williams' three-year extension is worth $10 million, $5 million of which is guaranteed, the NFL Network reported, citing a source. The deal also includes incentives.

Through three games, Williams has recorded 14 tackles and broken up two passes while primarily covering the slot receiver in the 49ers' nickel defense.

Williams, 26, was signed to a one-year contract in the offseason after spending time with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley at the Cleveland Browns. Hafley said he considered Williams one of the top nickel backs in the NFL.

The Brown signed Williams as an undrafted free agent from Pittsburgh in 2014. Williams (5 foot 9, 183 pounds) played in 26 games in his first two seasons with 10 starts.

Williams fell out of favor in Cleveland due to a dispute about an ankle injury and his availability to practice. The Browns waived Williams before the start of the 2016 season. The Chicago Bears claimed Williams off waivers but he failed a physical. Williams did not see action last season due to bone spurs in his ankle.

Williams signed a one-year, $690,000 contract with the 49ers that contained a $75,000 signing bonus. He can also make $250,000 in incentives. Terms of his new deal were not immediately known.

49ers defense: Top training camp competitions

49ers defense: Top training camp competitions

Before starting six games as a rookie, Rashard Robinson had not played football since the 2014 season at LSU.

Yet, Robinson is the closest thing to a sure bet to win a starting job among 49ers cornerbacks.

Tramaine Brock was projected as the starting cornerback on the other side until his arrest on suspicion of a troubling domestic incident prompted the 49ers to release him more than three months ago.

The 49ers open training camp next week, and here are the top competitions for starting jobs on defense:

LEFT CORNERBACK
Keith Reaser has yet to make an NFL start while appearing in 28 games the past two seasons. The 49ers rotated cornerbacks with the first-team defense during the offseason program, and Reaser put himself in position to enter camp as the slight favorite to replace Brock.

Veterans Dontae Johnson and Will Davis will try to work their way into the picture. And the 49ers are hopeful talented rookie Ahkello Witherspoon will develop a willingness to play with more physicality. The 49ers selected Witherspoon in the third round. He has the size and all the tools to win the starting job, but there were times in college he showed an alarming lack of aggression as a tackler.

NICKELBACK
K'Waun Williams is healthy after missing last season due to an ankle injury and falling out of favor with the Cleveland Browns. Defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, one of the few holdovers from Chip Kelly’s staff, thinks highly of Williams after coaching him with the Browns. Hafley said he believes Williams can become one of the top covermen in the slot in the entire league.

Williams lined up with the first-team defense throughout the offseason program. His biggest competition could come from Will Redmond, whom the 49ers selected in the third round of the 2016 draft but did not play as a rookie due to a knee injury. Redmond has some rust to knock off, but he did not appear to show signs of the injury during the offseason program.

RIGHT DEFENSIVE END
Arik Armstead is not the prototypical player at the “Leo” position. At 6 foot 7, Armstead does not have the low center of gravity that is typically associated with that position. But Armstead is certainly not lacking for athleticism.

The 49ers need a more consistent pass rush to assist their unproven cornerbacks, and this spot will be counted upon to provide more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Veteran Elvis Dumervil, who believes he has regained his explosion off the edge after being hampered with Achilles injury, was added last month to do what he does best. Dumervil, 33, enters the season with 99 career sacks.

Aaron Lynch is on notice as he enters his fourth NFL season. He moves from outside linebacker to defensive end in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme. Multiple competitions will be ongoing at this position, as the 49ers will look to determine the best fits for base downs, as well as passing situations.

WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER
The signing of free-agent Malcolm Smith raised a few eyebrows. It was just the offseason program, but Smith was as impressive as any player on the team during the non-padded practices. He is clearly comfortable in Robert Saleh’s scheme, which is based on the Seattle Seahawks’ defense.

The 49ers had Reuben Foster rated as their No. 3 prospect in the entire draft. They traded with the Seahawks to move up to select him at No. 31 overall. The 49ers seem thoroughly unconcerned with Foster’s shoulder. The club believes he will be medically cleared for the opening of training camp.

The 49ers might want to bring Foster along slowly, but it is clear they do not expect him to be a backup for very long.