Ian Williams aims to be back by 2014 training camp

Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

49ers nose tackle Ian Williams is looking at a training camp return from his broken ankle. We break down what this means.

The San Francisco 49ers will head into 2014 training camp with a defensive line that finished the year among the deepest in the NFL. They will head into camp with a chance to add to that depth with the return of nose tackle Ian Williams. The 49ers lost Williams to a broken ankle in Week 2, and he has been busy rehabbing every since.

When the team was clearing out their lockers the day after the NFC Championship Game loss, Williams told the media he expected to be 100 percent for training camp. Earlier this week, 49ers.com had a follow up with him in which they said Williams "aims to be back by training camp." They said team doctors are taking "a careful approach" with Williams in his return. We don't know the full extent of his injury beyond reports of a broken ankle, so for now we just have to wait and see how he returns.

The 49ers can hit the field again as soon as April 21 with their offseason workout program. It sounds likely that Williams will see little to no real practice time during that stretch. Given his returning status that is not exactly the end of the world. He'll still be able to do classroom work when the time comes.

It's not ideal, but for defensive linemen, this work in shells or less is not going to make or break things. Williams is more or less assured a roster spot, but he will have a tough battle if he wants to climb back past Glenn Dorsey as the team's starting nose tackle. Dorsey will get the first team reps in the workout program, which likely means he'll get first team reps when training camp starts. It will be on Williams to take the bull by the horns at that point.

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