The 49ers activated nose tackle Ian Williams from the physically-unable-to-perform list, making him eligible to join his teammates on the field when the club returns to practice on Wednesday in Santa Clara.
Williams sustained a fractured left fibula (near his ankle) and significant ligament damage on a then-legal cut block from Seattle right guard J.R. Sweezy in a Week 2 game. He underwent four surgeries, including the final one in February to remove the plate from his leg.
“It took a lot out of me,” Williams said in June of the surgeries in which screws and plates were inserted and later removed.
In March, the NFL passed a rule that calls for a clipping penalty to be enforced if an offensive player’s block (legal or illegal) is followed by the blocker rolling up on the back or side of the legs of a defender. Sweezy would have been penalized under the new rule.
Williams called the rule change a “good start.” But he could not get into the specifics of the play in question because he has yet to watch a replay of his season-ending injury.
“It’s something you don’t want in the back of your mind when you’re out there playing,” Williams said. “I might watch the beginning of the play, but when it happens, I pause it or look away.”
The 49ers are thin at the nose tackle position after Glenn Dorsey, who replaced the injured Williams last season, suffered a torn biceps muscle and could miss the entire 2014 season.
With the injuries, Mike Purcell and Quinton Dial have both seen action at nose tackle recently.
Purcell was an undrafted free agent from Wyoming who spent last season on the practice squad. Dial, a fifth-round pick last season, has shown tremendous strength on the practice field. At 6 foot 5, Dial must work on keeping his pad level low, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.