Pro Football Focus is going through each position and rating the five best and worst contracts across the NFL. On Tuesday, they looked at defensive line contracts, and San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ian Williams was listed among the five best contracts.
Shortly before free agency began, Williams agreed to terms on a five-year extension worth $27.5 million. However, after the initial reports of a deal, things went silent. The silence was broken a couple weeks later when reports said the 49ers and Williams had agreed to terms on a revised one-year contract. Williams had what were reported as multiple surgeries on his ankle, and there were questions as to his availability for Week 1. The contract was revised to one-year, $4 million with roster bonuses and incentives that could bump it up to $6 million. His deal includes a $1 million base salary, $2 million in game-day roster bonuses, and various other incentives.
Here is what PFF had to say about Williams and his contract. It does not reference his ankle issues. He is likely going to start training camp on the PUP list, and his status for Week 1 is a big question. If healthy, he is a strong nose tackle, and could provide significant depth in the sub-packages. But for now, we are left to wait and wonder what his status might be.
The 18th-highest-graded interior defender (85.6) in the league last season, Williams was a bright spot in an otherwise down year for the 49ers. Having played just 271 snaps in his first four seasons, Williams emerged as a dominant force against the run, finishing last season with the ninth-highest run-stop percentage (10.6) among defensive tackles (tied with Linval Joseph). He finished the year particularly strong; his run defense grade over the last six weeks of the season was third among defensive tackles, with his overall grade being fourth. He added a respectable 19 pressures as a pass-rusher, as well.
As the 49ers work to rebuild their defense, the combination of Williams, 2015 first-round draft pick Arik Armstead, and 2016 first-round pick DeForest Buckner show substantial promise along the defensive line. Armstead and Buckner will be under their rookie deals for some time, with Williams (at least this year) making modest money, giving the team possibly one of the most economical defensive fronts in the league.