Amidst all the OC and draft hubbub, the 49ers have made an intriguing signing. They've reached a deal with former Atlanta Falcons defensive back Jimmy Williams. For those scratching their head, no it's not former 49ers DB Jimmy Williams, now a member of the Houston Texans.
This Jimmy Williams, while also a defensive back, was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2006 in the second round (5th pick that round). To say he's had an up and down career might be an understatement. In his final year at Virginia Tech, Williams was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe and Bronco Nagurski awards and a unanimous All-American. He was the fifth corner taken in the 2006 draft and at one point had been projected as high as a top-10 pick.
His NFL career never took off in his two seasons with the Falcons. Last summer, after two seasons, Williams was released by the club. Two months later, he was handed a 5-game suspension by the NFL for what may or may not have been a violation of the NFL's
confuct conduct policy. He was reportedly charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession last summer, but no reasons was given for the suspension.
This is certainly an interesting signing. You have a guy who appears to be a supremely talented defensive back, who would seem to have had some character issues in his past. Can Mike Singletary shape him up? No terms have been released on the contract, but I can't imagine it's that big of a deal. That means if he acts up too much, they can quickly cut him.
The team has some young talent to pair up with Nate Clements, but you can never have too much depth at cornerback. In two seasons, Williams started a grand total of 7 games and has 1 interception. Although his natural talent may carry him far, I can't imagine it will be easy to crack the lineup after sitting out an entire season. Of course I'm guessing they're not expecting that, so any positive noise he can make will be a plus.
FOOCH'S NOTE 9:45PM: Barrows' column suggests he'll get a crack at free safety. He played both positions in Atlanta, and obviously we've seen that corners can be transitioned to full time safety. JerseyNinerFan says it best when mentioning it shows the organization thinking outside the box.