SANTA CLARA -- Nose tackle Ian Williams would like to see the kind of legal cut-block that ended his season legislated out of the NFL.
Williams, who opened the season as a 49ers starter, told CSNBayArea.com he plans to conduct research on the injury risks and how rules can be adjusted in a way that would not dramatically impact the run game.
Williams’ season came to an end in Week 2 when he sustained a fractured left ankle when Seattle Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy blocked him from behind while Williams was in contact with center Max Unger.
This week, DeMaurice Smith, chief of the NFL Players Association, visited the 49ers. He told CSNBayArea.com’s Mindi Bach that he and Williams will put together evidence to present a case to the NFL Competition Committee in hopes of outlawing the dangerous blocking technique.
The zone-blocking scheme, which uses cut blocks to seal off backside pursuit, has a history with the 49ers. Long-time offensive line coach Bobb McKittrick used athletic, under-sized linemen to regularly execute low blocks on the interior of the offensive line.
The Seahawks, under former Raiders head coach Tom Cable, are proponents of the blocking scheme. And nose tackle Glenn Dorsey said he will be prepared to protect himself on Sunday when the Seahawks visit Candlestick Park.
“It’s part of the game, and it’s part of the scheme that they do,” Dorsey said. “You just have to be aware and cognizant of the fact that they’re probably going to cut-block you. You got to move your feet and be aware at all times.”
Sweezy was not penalized, nor was he fined, for his block against Williams. But Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he would not be surprised if something is done in the future about the technique.
“It is a legal play, to cut at the line of scrimmage in the interior line,” Carroll said. “There was nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, he (Williams) got hurt. But there may come a time, with all the safeties issues that are at hand, there may come a time when the competition committee frowns upon it and they take a turn in a different way and everybody has to stay up. That’ll change a lot.”
Without cut blocks, some believe defenses could simply use big defensive linemen to anchor at the line of scrimmage and prevent offensive linemen from being able to get reach the second level and block linebackers.
But Carroll said he believes there will be a time when a rules change is seriously considered.
“We have a lot of rules we’re complying with right now that are adjusting the game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that comes about,” Carroll said. “Surely, it’s topical. Everybody respects everybody in this game, and we’re trying to take care one another. We’re trying to do the right things here. But that’s still a situation that’s difficult on the D-linemen.”
Williams was placed on season-ending injured reserve after the injury. He is still in an orthopedic boot but expects to be healthy enough to participate in the 49ers’ offseason program.