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What does Glenn Dorsey signing mean for the defensive line?

The San Francisco 49ers signed Glenn Dorsey to a 2-year contract extension. We take a look at what it means for the defensive line in 2015.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Fooch's Update: We've got some initial early information on the deal. I'll keep an eye out for base salary info as well.

Tuesday afternoon, the San Francisco 49ers announced that defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey signed a 2-year contract extension, which could keep him with the team through the 2016 season. Dorsey recently had surgery on a torn biceps muscle, and the team is in the process of deciding whether or not he can return for the 2014 season. If they think he can make a recovery before the end of the season, they may choose to place him on the injured reserve with the return designation.

We have discussed the 49ers defensive line depth chart plenty as it relates to the 2014 season. This signing gives us a chance to look at the depth chart moving beyond this season. Here's your current depth chart along the line, with a bit of approximation.

LDT: Ray McDonald, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Quinton Dial, Kaleb Ramsey (PUP)
NT: Ian Williams, Mike Purcell, Glenn Dorsey (injured)
RDT: Justin Smith, Demarcus Dobbs, Tank Carradine, Lawrence Okoye

We still have just a little bit of football in 2014 to consider, but looking beyond 2014, the Dorsey extension is intriguing. Dorsey was brought in last season to compete with Ian Williams at nose tackle. When Williams won the job in training camp, Dorsey appeared set to be the primary reserve along the entire defensive line. That changed when Williams broke his ankle. Dorsey took over the nose tackle role and did a fantastic job with it.

A year later, Dorsey is injured and Williams is on the mend. Mike Purcell has handled nose tackle work for much of the preseason, but once Williams is ready to take part in game action (potentially this weekend), Purcell will likely be looking at a practice squad spot at most.

The 49ers have signed Williams through the 2015 season at a decent price. If he puts together a solid 2014 season, he would be the front-runner for the nose tackle role in 2015. Whenever Dorsey does return, he would seem like a strong candidate to be that swing defensive lineman who can handle all roles.

Dorsey's role in 2015 could also depend on what happens with Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. If Smith retires, or the 49ers decide to release Ray McDonald as a post-June 1 cut (the best chance next year for significant cap savings), Dorsey could compete with the other reserves for a starting role.

Some have said this extension does not reflect well on the 49ers young defensive line talent, but I don't think that's the case at all. Rather, they were likely able to extend Dorsey at a fairly good price coming off his injury, and they took advantage of that opportunity. We'll get a better idea of the contract in the coming days, but my guess is it is probably a pretty solid deal, given the context of his signing. A team that is getting close to the cap needs to take advantage of any and all situations. It obviously opens the door for displeasure down the road if performance exceeds the contract, but you worry about that later. The 49ers bring will retain a strong part of their defense, and maintain strong depth moving forward.