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49ers Training Camp: Battling For Nose Tackle Playing Time

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The 49ers conducted their first open practice yesterday and reading over the live reports, it sounds like it was a fun practice to attend. You can check some of them out via links at the bottom of this post. After today, the team will have additional practices this coming Monday and Tuesday and then two Wednesdays and Thursdays from now. Check on tickets HERE. I'll be at this coming Tuesday's practice if anybody else is going.

In Maiocco's blog post for the practice session, he put together an approximated depth chart based on how players were lining up throughout the day. It's worth noting that Isaac Sopoaga sat out with a continued hamstring injury. Additionally, Shawntae Spencer, NaVorro Borman, Ahmad Brooks, and Keaton Kristick all sat out on defense.

The absence of Sopoaga remains incredibly notable given that he has yet to practice this preseason. Yesterday, Ricky Jean-Francois worked with the first team unit at nose tackle, with Ian Williams backing him up. Prior to the return of the veteran free agents, Williams was manning the nose tackle role, while RJF was at left defensive end. The return of Ray McDonald and the continued absence of Sopoaga has RJF back at nose and Williams behind him.

When practice first got going last week, RJF was manning the nose tackle position, Williams was second team, and Will Tukuafu was at left defensive end. As training camp progressed, Justin Smith got banged up and Tukuafu moved to right defensive end, RJF to LDE and Williams to nose tackle.

It sounds like Williams has looked solid in the nose tackle role, although I haven't heard a whole lot over the last couple of days. I find myself wondering how the injury of Isaac Sopoaga affects the nose tackle depth chart as we move further into the preseason. The first preseason game is now less than a week away and I find myself thinking RJF will likely get the start at nose tackle next Friday against the Saints. He's now getting the reps at nose tackle while Sopoaga recovers.

Any ideas how the nose tackle position develops over the next few weeks? RJF had a strong camp last year but was always going to be supplanted by Aubrayo Franklin. Might we see a different result in 2011?

Camp Reports