There are Super Bowl winning defenders out there on the open market for the free agency period who could look enticing in a San Francisco 49ers uniform. Names like Bobby Wagner, Tyrann Mathieu and Stephon Gilmore are three who come to mind who will all be in high demand once the signing period begins on Wednesday, March 16.
But there’s another one expected to be available for the taking now that his team didn’t place the franchise tag on him or anyone on his side. And he’s a Super Bowl champ from this past February.
And what’s one way to try and one-up the Super Bowl defending champions the Los Angeles Rams if you’re the 49ers? How about adding the one man who Bleacher Report’s NFL analyst Brent Sobleski called the 49ers’ “dream signing” on March 10: Cornerback Darious Williams.
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Why Williams is Considered a ‘Dream’ Fit for the 49ers
As Sobleski points out, the 49ers could face a complete overhaul in the secondary:
“The San Francisco 49ers retained most of their secondary last offseason, though many of them returned on a short-term deals. They’re now at risk of losing Jason Verrett, K’Waun Williams, Dontae Johnson, Josh Norman, Tavon Wilson and Jaquiski Tartt in free agency.
The Niners’ best path forward may be resetting and finding some long-term solutions along the back line. Darious Williams would provide them some flexibility.”
Not only would Williams add flexibility, but versatility. In a defense that saw Raheem Morris moving players around — from Aaron Donald as a defensive end to a three-technique to Jalen Ramsey being used in a “star” position by lining up as a slot cornerback, safety and outside cornerback — Williams was another who wasn’t kept at one spot.
“The 27-year-old is traditionally an outside corner. However, he can excel in the slot when asked to do so,” Sobleski wrote.
Per Pro Football Focus, the Rams lined up Williams in the following areas: 964 plays as a cornerback, 103 in the box (closest to line of scrimmage) and 92 snaps at slot cornerback.
While as the No. 2 cornerback opposite of the more-heralded Ramsey, Williams was targeted 106 times — surrendering 67 total catches for 807 yards and 3 touchdowns, but surrendered no touchdowns in the playoffs while facing the gauntlet of Kyler Murray, Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Joe Burrow.
Williams not long ago was the Rams’ top ballhawk, snatching a team-high 4 interceptions during the 2020 season. He was also an end zone denier twice against the Seattle Seahawks.
But he’s best known for this house call during the 2021 playoffs that ended the Seahawks’ season.
And despite his smallish 5-foot-9, 187-pound stature, Williams proved he can stay attached to hips like a wallet in the pocket while going against the much taller Marquez Valdez-Scantling:
Move Would Pair Williams With Young Talent
With Williams fresh off a Super Bowl win and in his late 20s, he’s reaching the part of his career where he can become a mentor and leader for a younger cornerback unit.
San Francisco presents just that as Sobleski said.
“San Francisco could part ways with some of its older options and work with Williams, Emmanuel Moseley and Ambry Thomas as the new backbone of its defense. A long-term, backloaded deal might help the Niners steal Williams away from the rival Rams, too,” Sobleski mentioned.
And when you’re in a division that still has to deal with D.K. Metcalf without Russell Wilson and perennial Pro Bowler De’Andre Hopkins, you need all the secondary reinforcements you can get.
Even better for the 49ers, they can upgrade a spot that saw Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham surpass 100 yards receiving in the NFC title game by nabbing a guy who knows both wideouts very well.