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49ers defensive line depth chart: Return of Ian Williams boosts depth

The 49ers defensive line depth chart received an infusion of talent on Tuesday with the activation of Ian Williams off the PUP list. We take a look at what it means for the depth chart.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday morning, the San Francisco 49ers announced Ian Williams had been activated off the PUP list. The 49ers nose tackle had been rehabbing his broken ankle, suffered last September against the Seattle Seahawks. He suffered ligament damage as well, which led to four surgeries, and an extensive rehab process.

The return of Williams boosts a defensive line depth chart that has had its share of question marks this preseason. Justin Smith (shoulder) has sat out team drills the entire preseason, and Ray McDonald (leg) has sat out an extensive portion of it. Meanwhile, Glenn Dorsey (biceps) was lost for most if not all the season.

The San Francisco 49ers emailed out their preseason Week 2 game release, and it featured an updated depth chart. This was released prior to Ian Williams' activation, so I have added him in. Additionally, they list Dorsey as injured, but not on a specific list, so I've moved him to where he could end up. This is a PR distribution, so this is not an official coaches depth chart:

LDT: Ray McDonald, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Tank Carradine
NT: Ian Williams, Quinton Dial, Mike Purcell
RDT: Justin Smith, Demarcus Dobbs, Lawrence Okoye

PUP: DT Kaleb Ramsey
IR or short term IR: DT Glenn Dorsey

The 49ers host the Denver Broncos on Sunday. I would be a little bit surprised if Williams played this week, although it would not be a shock. The 49ers have two practice sessions, and then additional meetings over the next four days. He knows the defensive system, but it remains a question of if he is in football shape. His ankle is seemingly fine, but being in good shape, and being in football shape are two different things. And as Matt Barrows pointed out, when the 49ers have activated players off various injury lists, they have put them through walkthroughs initially, and then eventually worked them into full practices. My guess is he does not get playing time until Week 3 against the Chargers.

We still await word on Glenn Dorsey's status, but in the meantime, this gives Dial a chance to continue focusing on the end roles. He will probably still get some nose tackle work just in case, but his primary focus will be as an end. That is where he is most valuable to this time, so this should only boost the depth behind Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. The 49ers rotated in Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs last season, but given what we've seen from Dial and Tank Carradine in this preseason's small sample size, the times may be a-changing.