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Ian Williams on the injury that ended his career: “It basically destroyed my joints”

The former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman was Matt Maiocco’s latest guest on his podcast and went into detail on the gruesome injury, that led to multiple surgeries and ended his career.

The San Francisco 49ers may have thought they found a diamond in the rough when they signed Ian Williams as an undrafted free agent. While he certainly showed promise, Williams was unable to ever stay healthy. Despite some of his health issues, Williams was reported to have signed a five year extension.

Then things got weird. Shortly after news of the extension came out, Williams instead signed a one year deal following several ankle surgeries. The 49ers released him with an injury settlement in late October of 2016. Williams wasn’t exactly happy about it either.

So what gives? Williams was on Matt Maiocco’s 49ers Insider Podcast and gave some clarity to what happened with those ankle injuries.

“My ankle, right before the flight [returning from training in Miami for 2016 season] just didn’t feel right. Long story short, had some surgeries to clear up, I had got an infection that came back that kept me out longer heading into the 2014 season. That’s pretty much basically what was happening. It was weird because I was hearing stories that I was out ATV riding or whatever and I really wasn’t. I was literally in LA walking around with some friends and that’s when it started to bother me.”

To clarify, all of this happened to the same left leg Williams fractured in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks in 2013 and also fractured again in the middle of the 2014 season.

As far as the severity of the infection, Williams had this to say:

“It was really bad. Luckily they caught it in time so that I could have the surgeries and get it cleaned out. It basically destroyed my joints. That’s pretty much why I haven’t been able to resume my career.”

How many surgeries did Williams have on that ankle? From his account, “Within a two-three month span, I’d say six. Five or six.”

Williams says he’s cleared up as far as the infections go, but he’s still doing rehab and therapy. It’s less now about playing in the NFL and more about playing with his kids.

You can listen to the full podcast here or click on the button above.

01:07 - The spring of 2016 and what happened
03:00 - The infections of his left leg and the severity
04:43 - Was he in danger of losing his leg, foot, worse?
05:34 - All cleared up with the infection?
06:07 - When he had a new goal beyond the NFL and that’s to play with his kids
07:00 - Thoughts on being released from the 49ers with an injury settlement
07:45 - How he played 16 games in 2015 and then started experiencing problems with the infection.
11:15 - The Seattle game and the cut-block that ended his 2013 season
13:50 - The re-fracture, did he rush coming back?
17:16 - Difficulty of going from one of the better nose tackles to not playing in the NFL
18:45 - Advice for college players going to the next level?
20:45 - Has he figured out why he didn’t get drafted?
23:00 - Still involved with the game? Still watch the 49ers?
25:30 - What does the future hold for him?
26:50 - Maiocco debrief of what led to the release/Twitter Q&A