As devastated as Ian Williams felt two years ago when he went undrafted out of Notre Dame, he can now look back on that moment and realize how much the rejection meant to his career.
He landed with the San Francisco 49ers, and is the leading candidate to win the starting nose tackle job for the NFC champions as he begins his third NFL season.
The expectations for Williams are high heading into the team's exhibition opener Thursday night at home against Denver.
San Francisco lost both its starter and backup at the position to free agency this spring, leaving Williams and veteran newcomer lineman Glenn Dorsey to push each other in training camp — yet Williams has more experience. Each player could spend some time at defensive end, too.